and you shall know me by
Saturday April 26th 2008, 9:18 am
Filed under: friends,grief,hangover,holidays,tired Tags:

Umm. I dunno, exactly. Not a legacy, per se, but at least by some combination of the good I’ve done set alongside the,err, umm, not so good. It’s seder night here at the farm, although there’s a mild hangover to clear up, first. Then mad list-making, shopping, house-cleaning, and cooking, although for a mere 9 (rather than 11, 15, 22…the various numbers of seders past.). A friend of YCT’s unexpectedly here as a houseguest – one of a two-academic couple, facing the trauma of ambitions and desires that don’t align. Such grief, and no good answers to be had. A friend in Berkeley, remarking that his girlfriend of four years has only ever known him while he was “on the market,” as the phrase goes. (I much prefer the English “putting in for” a post, or position, or even job. Retail rather than wholesale, baby, a nation of [academic] shopkeepers.) Amongst all of the other costs of pursuing a dream, a job that we love to do (and to the student (who I assume has no idea this exists) who interviewed me about tenure for the campus newspaper, thank you for closing with that quotation), is precisely that – knowing what we want to do. Which makes the pain of not being able to do it at all, or not being able to do it how or where we want, that much more painful. It’s an identity profession – doctor, lawyer, plumber, carpenter, contractor, gardener – and when we “can’t get a job AS an xxxx” then we confront separating the years of work to assume the mantle from the desire that motivated the work in the first place.

Jesus H. Christ on the cross, I’m babbling. Not really through the first cup of coffee. To review: seder tonight, YCT’s friend is having a tough time of a situation I thank the stars above that it isn’t a plague that was visited upon me (see what I did there? See?), my heart has been unhardened for a while now (….), and, umm, yeah. Missing the people with whom this tradition started, with whom I’ve shared this in the past. You’re here, in some form, tonight.

Thursday April 24th 2008, 7:30 am
Filed under: myjobfuckingsometimesdoesntrock,teaching,whingeing,Work Tags:

listing shipI hate lists, usually because they indicate I have too much going on to hold it all in my head. Except for “don’t forget when you leave for England for a month” -type lists, cuz I usually actually need the shit I put on there. Today’s list features the patch (as I’m quitting, again, umm, as of now I guess.) and a few bottles of wine for the graduate student event at 6.30 this evening, it features a call to the butcher to arrange for a brisket for Saturday’s seder, and 7 FUCKING HOURS OF TEACHING. My usually 5-hour Thursday supplemented by a voluntary “reading group” to get the damn grad students to read An Important Text. In my day, we just read the fucking text, and didn’t require bribery and hand-holding. They’re soft, I tell you. The list goes on and on, but I’m getting bored and stressed just going over it. Balance, dammit.

update, for the purpose of honesty:OK, fine, sometimes we didn’t read the text. But we lied about having read it, and we damn well didn’t get caught. Sometimes after lying it was read, which might, occasionally, have taken years. But if we hadn’t read it, we announced we had the day after we were told to go read it. Regardless, you see. Out the door at 8.20, without a flight to catch…might be a first since NY teaching days. Ciao.

oh, the hangovers you’ll know
Wednesday April 23rd 2008, 10:13 am
Filed under: hangover,talks,tired Tags:

Arg. Ouch. Head hurts. I’m out of practice, which is, I suppose, a rather good thing. The talk came and went, “politely received” by those for whom it was too much to accept, and exceptionally well received by the young ‘uns, too naive to realize I had pushed their teachers out to the edge of untenable limbs. But now I want my fricking life back, and that, apparently, involves hangovers. On the other hand, I think my hangover and I might work from home today, and avoid the too-many-consecutive-days-in-my-office rut that can happen. Even if my email is working only most laboriously and tenuously, which is annoying the hell out of me. Any workplace that has to discuss “life/work” balance, it’s over, it’s too late, you’re already farked, there is no balance. And I realize I got no balance, but at least I can radically over-compensate as I lurch from one extreme to the other. OK, nevermind, my head hurts, and it’s clear I can’t pursue a single thought for longer than a half sentence before slipping off the tracks and falling down the verge…

lion’s den
Friday April 18th 2008, 5:29 am
Filed under: Berkeley,Miscellaneous, Truly,tired Tags:

Well, better metaphors of straight up violence than of sexual violence, as per my viva. Anyway, I’m not at all convinced by hours that begin with 5, and not convinced it’s truly necessary. But, shower, shave, shit, shine, and shampoo, or some subset thereof, and off I go / to step on the toes / of them that once did teach me. And to be all charming and shit, but mixed in with a fairly dense social load, some more complicated than others….


do you suffer from long term memory loss?
Wednesday April 16th 2008, 11:29 pm
Filed under: Berkeley,memory,nostalgia,reminiscence,self-indulgent,talks Tags:

coffee cupI can’t remember. Or, sort of kind of maybe a little bit. Yeah, I guess that was me. Oh, hmm, well, yeah, that was also me. The talk is done, the me that is the me that writes things down to the wire has apparently, for these two talks, invented the me that moves on to the next round of stress before even finishing the previous round. Next week seems far more troubling than Saturday’s talk, until Friday, of course, when I begin a weekend’s worth of living in nothing but the now, a luxury, these days, limited to lectures, seminars, conferences, and the odd private moment in between far too many public moments. An English scholar visiting, a talk, not wrong, reluctant on all the bits it might have been interestingly right about. Couched, moreover, in that self-justifying “this is why we matter…really! We matter!” rhetoric of grant proposals of the desperate and only occasionally smug. Kind words from students who arrived with an endlessly large coffee mug and a charming array of English food-stuffs from the English shop in Santa Monica – a Mars bar, salt and vinegar crisps, digestive biccies, jammy dodgers, a st. george’s flag. Charming charming charming. At least two of ’em like me, then.

Which doesn’t address the weekend of past and present, returning, properly, after 5 years away. “Meet me in my office for lunch,” she said, as if the space weren’t impossibly over-determined. A space I can’t imagine that she had to keep working in, and yet was never mine in the first place, shared by the grace of, but always out of reach, always a symbol for all that I didn’t, wouldn’t have. A social calendar filling up, coffee and drinks and other drinks and still other drinks, and I should really throw some family into the mix for good measure. Streets I haven’t walked fearing discovery by one side, or the other, for a very long time. Sensibly, I have far too much time, there, time for a pencil and a notebook to run riot, or merely to stew until over-cooked, or merely to observe a present that has long since passed me by while I was standing in a past that is long since past. A funny town, anchored in a history of political radicalism, and yet shockingly conservative in its expectations of mild-to-mid progressiveness. I’m pleased the weather won’t be too nice….

birthdays, thoughts
Wednesday April 16th 2008, 12:06 am
Filed under: Berkeley,birthday,memory,reminiscence,self-indulgent Tags:

Well, the impossible busyness of the last month or so coinciding, not un-coincidentally, with the resurrection of TPT a mere month ago, well, it’s coming to an end. The talk is basically done, although it needs a final paragraph and a good spit polish, for good measure. Which is now two talks in a row (in case the audience at home wanted to keep score) that I’ve finished in advance. Which, in turn, leads to a certain crisis of self: who is this me that works to the bitter fucking end of the deadline, and not a moment before, who seems to keep finishing with a day or two to spare? Need I radically reconfigure my sense of self-perspective and work habits? Or is it, ultimately, trivial? Crises I’ve merely misjudged by a day or two, thankfully on the right side, rather than not. Can’t quite tell.

Not to mention, of course, the double whammy of today’s birthday, and the upcoming trip to the Alma Mattress in honor of, well, a teacher, I guess. She did teach me, was my teacher, and while I resent, to some extent, the radical appropriation of my successes, the De Certeau-ian poaching of my processes, there’s also a part of me that acknowledges her as an early influence. Not one I chose after a certain point, admittedly, once I was in a position to make a decision, either intellectual or emotional. But, office-supplied and wide-eyed, she was good to me, a long, long decade-plus ago. And thus I struggle to resent too much the co-option I and my work face this weekend. The flip side, of course, is Fuck! Berkeley! Fuck! (Amusing side note – everybody who knows I’m heading up there has offered me a place to stay, all too indicative of a life time of habitual poverty. In declaiming to a friend that I was momentarily out of poverty, and instead on someone else’s nickel for this trip, and off to stay at a slick hotel, said friend remarked, “I feel certain that you have never actually stayed in that hotel, and that you will find that the transition is a lot easier to handle than you anticipate!” Bless.)

Blah. Not a wholly convincing entry. The rhythm, it just ain’t back yet, and I apologize for that. Trying to remember old birthdays, to count back through the years, I found myself at an utter loss for the last I celebrated in London, in 2004. Thankfully, the shiny new and resurrected TPT archives provided the answer: alone, London, broke, crap job, work despair, and a dinner party. Details emerge, if not for the birthday itself, but close enough for, at least, context. But what struck me most was how utterly freely I wrote this, then, sitting in Hammersmith, monitoring tele-sales phone calls, and writing any and all shite and posting it to TPT. A hyper self-examination that was, at the same time, unconscious, unexamined. If you see what I mean and I think you do. Perhaps better, unexamined whilst writing, unconsidered whilst typing. And that seems to elude me, to some extent. It has only been a month. Maybe I can get there from here.

Tuesday April 15th 2008, 8:42 am
Filed under: birthday,Rubbish Tags:

I guess I’m not the messiah, after all. I was holding out the slimmest of hopes, but Easter has come and gone, I’m at the palindrome age, and nothing from God. Not a whisper, not a bad Jewish joke, not a burning bush, nothing. Oh well. Back to work…..

update:My new birthday theme song:, with the nigh-on perfect line, “And I hate Dirty Dancing with a passion / And apparently you don’t like words on the screen.”

Sunday April 13th 2008, 11:01 am
Filed under: poetry,Rubbish Tags:

Haiku generator says (of the TPT archives on blogspot):

but pointed enough
to tell you what schopenhauer
really said and

review or two fuck
it burn the shit that i have
less control over

understanding a
gesture a letter a mix
cd a stoppard play

the to and the fro
of the equation it would
make this all rather

(Check it out here.)

no metronome
Sunday April 13th 2008, 10:03 am
Filed under: Berkeley,can't make that shit up,geek,nostalgia,procrastination,sober,talks Tags:

Glad the flobot song is getting radio play, although I’m occasionally unconvinced by it.  I’m curious about Magda, commenting down below.  To adapt the words of the rapper the guy in Flobot sounds rather like, “will the real Magda please stand up?”  Or not.  Work went well, yesterday, so I’m not quite in the depths of despair (*waves vigorously to Magda the First*), but we’ll see how today goes.  Perhaps it’s best the work and teaching are going to take most of what I have right up until the point of departure – the time for nostalgia is after I’ve done what needs to be done up there (telling them collectively and singly that I’m better at this than they are, and right about things they’ve been wrong about for years, and seen things that have been staring them in the face for years.)  No pressure, of course.  I don’t think I’ve been through Berkeley since picking up my belongings in Aug. 2006, and drinking my uncle into the emergency room.  That was vaguely amusing, if a little bit alarming.

On the this and that front, I’ve retrieved the PsychoChick story in all its glory, and a one-off on “alone.” Mostly cuz that shit was bugging me.  Also, the wack-ass google queries have started feeding traffic here – for the bot or person seeking “tpt gay acronym” I must say, my imagination fails me.  “I stoled you’re chalks,” yes, and even “iDoorstop”, but we’re largely acronym free here at TPT…….

update: the “target” attribute doesn’t validate for XHTML strict? Well, that’s particularly lame, given wordpress seems to automatically insert the attribute, even if only as “_self”. Someday after next weekend, I’m gonna mow that grass up there, change the section breaks, fonts, colors, and whip this site into far more distinctive shape. Just, umm, errr, not right now.

hurry up
Saturday April 12th 2008, 10:27 am
Filed under: money,whingeing,Work Tags:

Broke, again, while waiting for reimbursements on Canada and hosting Distinguished Guest.  Some day I’ll get this money shit sorted out.  In the meantime, I splurged and got Radiohead tickets for August, which should, at the very least, be entertaining.  Work-Hell Part III begins today – a clear run at writing a paper for next Saturday, something I’ve been banging my head against for months, so at least I’m not starting cold, as with the talk for last weekend.  Also, it’s material for the Big Book of “Gimme Tenure You Fucktards,” so, again, in contrast to last weekend’s talk, I’ve been thinking about this shit for a while.  I might even have some existing stuff I can crib, except, of course, for the fact that I can’t steal my own thunder and publish in the Festschrift that will result from next weekend’s shindig what I want to be the Big Dramatic Opening to the book.  We’ll see – as the days slip away, I’ll slowly give up, I imagine. Also, remind me to write a post about how annoying I’m finding some of the graduate students resistance to – gasp – work.  Of course it’s hard, and tiring….that’s what it’s supposed to be.  Anyway, a bit more coffee, then I’m gonna break my own rule of “no shorts on campus” and brave the 94 degree weather out there. Thank god our flat stays so cool.  (It’s difficult to muster sympathy from those of you still facing the tail-end of winter, or early but fickle spring, I know, but remember, I’m always the victim.)