DFW, Cont
Tuesday September 30th 2008, 9:08 am
Filed under: Miscellaneous, Truly Tags:

Via she who posted his syllabus (oh so tempting….), natch:

t-shirts on hangers
Friday September 26th 2008, 8:54 am
Filed under: Berkeley,friends,inner-polish-teenage-girl,reminiscence,sober Tags:

First lecture, today. Including myself, my closest friends from my undergraduate years have assembled 8 PhDs (Comparative Literature, English, Linguistics, Philosophy, Rhetoric), at least 3 Masters (American Studies, Environmental Engineering, Comparative Literature), and 2 JDs; two currently live in Europe. Huh. No medical doctors in that lot. I’m a bit disappointed. Anyway, how the fuck did this happen? What drew us to each other, many on literally the first day of university? Did we narrow each other’s paths, even while broadening our interests? Did we herd our way into the overeducated? Not everyone in this group came from families where college, let alone higher degrees, was the norm, so how the fuck did we get here? And, 15 years later, has the very nature of friendship changed? Despite email and cell phones and facebook and friendster and bebo and orkut and blogs and twitter, sometimes it seems I can’t find my friends at all…

Leaving yesterday, I walked behind a few new undergraduates, grouped up for safety. One split off, waving her cell phone, saying she’d call later. We had no cell phones; I don’t recall calling people that often, yet we somehow managed to find each other. They’re a new fricking generation. Kennedy’s assassination, Woodstock, the faux-lesbian grind, as Veronica Mars would have it. But we had something, and I’m puzzled how the rules have changed. Anyway, off to point a fool at the moon and hope he doesn’t look at my finger.

Thursday September 18th 2008, 11:52 pm
Filed under: change,memory,Miscellaneous, Truly,tired,Work Tags:

Good will, that is. It’s on, again, backtobacktoback on the telly. The wine gone, onto the vodka, sipping, of course, the days of shots mostly behind me, despite the odd imperative to reacquire shot glasses. I always thought it was about “the belt, the stick, or the wrench”, and “it’s not your fault.” Brought me bring me to tears. Eat me / beat me / talk hard. And the tough-love inner city bearded shrink at community college, the friends who would lie down in traffic. And the connection is…….????? I gave up on genius, a while ago. It was close (as far as I was concerned; the world was never all that fussed), but not quite. Smarter than the average bear, sure, take 9 out of 10, fine. The 10%, though? That’s the world I live in. That’s a lot of fucking people. Even the 1% is a lot of fucking people. And this film, about letting go and taking risks for love, about cherishing imperfections in the face of exceptional talent, and facing what exceptional looks like when it chooses paths that the other exceptional(s) don’t respect. The job market confronts, a job I want but can’t get, and a job I kinda want that I should probably get. The latter, of course, the one that haunts – not quite career suicide, but two books to write my way out. Why out if I want to go there, first? But a place where Republicans don’t exist, if a bit on the rainy and dark and north of england side of things? Compromise, sure, but where does it all stack? I bought 5 books for just over 500 bucks about thirty minutes ago. I’ll be fully reimbursed from my research funds. That gravy train would grind to a halt, derail, and probably kill a few bystanders should I choose Door Number Two (as it shall henceforth be known). And maybe I’m OK with that. I triangulate. Drinks with a friend tomorrow, with a spoiled-children kindred spirit next week.

slowly, with music
Thursday September 18th 2008, 10:06 am
Filed under: commies,family,Music,procrastination,seasonal,self-indulgent Tags:

The world is fucking insane. The United States of Bankruptcy has its knickers all in a twist because the rich are less rich than they were. Boo fucking hoo. FDIC Insurance on commercial bank accounts up to a hundred fucking thousand dollars. Which means, really, that they can take the 99,200 or so that I don’t have in a bank account, and cover someone else’s money with that. Stupid Congress in 1999 started this, deregulating investment banks and commercial banks that had mandatorily been separate entities since….wait for it….legislation after the Great Fucking Depression suggested they were greedy fuckers who didn’t mind risking consequences that went so unimaginably far beyond their own little wall street world that perhaps the federal government should keep an eye on em. And now they realize they have regulation issues? And, indeed, complain about Depression-era regulation as insufficiently complex/nuanced for the modern world? Sure, you dropped the ball and screwed the pooch, but notice how well de-regulation has worked. Markets are not perfectly efficient, because greed isn’t perfectly efficient, which means at some point everyone’s gonna get fucked by the greedy. Nationalize away, assholes.

The students have started pestering me, so it must be that time of year. Frantically trying to clean up my office and get a few things out the door (or, at least, off my desk {or, at least, hidden deep in a drawer somewhere}) before it kicks off entirely. So, with no further ado, something I started in March on a cheerful day, and picked up today, as music, ever so slowly, creeps back into my life: exeunt1b.

Monday September 15th 2008, 9:08 am
Filed under: can't make that shit up,damn,reminiscence,tired Tags:

Wow. Being busy always helps. Nothing like taking a several week process and squeezing it into several hours of work yesterday. Now I just need to convince someone at the NEH that they’ll pre-review my shit, so I can persuade others to do their bit, so I can submit my shit. Cuz, you know, it ain’t worth it otherwise. Fucking bureaucracy at its most elaborately impressive. And DFW. A longer post on that, as Infinite Jest came with me to England back in Feb 98, before Oxford, and was read on the 2 week trip that confirmed how much I wanted it. Read it in the Turf, read it in a pub up by Archway, read it on the train to Norwich. Carried that fucking tome all over and black (also, Stendhal, I believe. And something else). But, hanging? Really? That’s pretty fucking hard core. Although I could see ending myself in Pomona, as well. Job uncertainty remains uncertain, but the crisis is delayed until after I get some other application shit sorted, and then that whole teaching thing.

wisdom words
Saturday September 13th 2008, 1:08 am
Filed under: Boozy,change,leaving,Miscellaneous, Truly,Rubbish,self-indulgent,Work Tags:

An (ex)colleague with words of wisdom, “always wise to let the job say no, rather than decide for them.” He’s right, of course, and knows that I want it for all the wrong reasons, and knows, too, that it’s extremely unlikely that I’d ever get it, and knows, too, what it is to want to be somewhere else. I don’t have the radical contingency of only three septembers ago, Sept. 2005, living in NY, working a crap job, knowing my work was better than anyone else’s but not how to sell it. I fucking learned how to sell it, and sell it but good, to exactly the people who were buying. Which connects up to the fear of doing this again – I don’t have a whole lot more work, so what exactly am I selling? Is it about the work or the reputation, the perks of a job that fucking rocks in North America, or the job done right, and exactly how much suffering goes into any of that? It used to be all about the work. That didn’t work so much. So, resting on that, I made it all about me. That worked, but the work got a bit lost. What’s left, what’s next, and what’s so awful about the ‘sure thing’ of jumping through the right hoops for the next 3 years, and seeing the other side of tenure where I am – a top 25 R1 school, public, where the weather’s lovely and you can get Ethiopian food at 3 in the morning if you really fancy. Hard to be the victim some days, ladies and gents, but so it goes for your not-so-humble narrator. Knock back the last of the wine, fingers sore from the guitar strings and a profound lack of callouses. Good sign, that, the making beyond the criticism, condensed to and represented by a review for a major journal I’m supposed to be writing. What we talk about when we talk about criticism….

puff puff pass
Friday September 12th 2008, 10:17 am
Filed under: change,fear Tags:

Better caffeinated, but the pit in my stomach grows ever deeper. Just this side of hyperventilating, looking out over the awful precipice of wanting, tempered by the shackles of fear and the crutch of comfort. Ah, Li Hua, you knew it well –

Shower, drive the always full but always lonely streets to work, head down and, well, work….

bring back / that sickly feeling

Job list out. But, says the attentive audience, you _have_ a job. Well, yes, attentive audience. I have a job that fucking rocks, except when it doesn’t rock. Mostly it rocks, when I’m feeling rockish about the job itself. Sometimes I feel less so rockish about the job, and things get a bit rocky. That’s a common part of me, but not what’s afoot. For it isn’t only about the job, you see, but also the man: laborum virumque cano, if you’ll forgive that, which you might not, but I might not care. More particularly, it’s the man in the mirror, when the mirror happens to be firmly located in HelLA. Location, location, location, I tell you, though it’s got good light and nice southern exposure. Job list out. New York’s own Ivy, and the crown jewel of the North of England. Where we spent a day just last month. Where, in fact, I had an asthma attack, and the kind people at the NHS rocked my non-breathing socks off. Where we plotted and planned what it would take to get there. And yet, do I have the strength, the courage, and the energy to do this? To fill out applications, muster essays and letters, and take the giant strides of uncertainty back into the mix? To apply to one place that would be a small step up, perceptually, but at what cost for the notoriously hostile mix. Or, to another that would essentially remove me from the map and from the north american academy, not quite career suicide, but a re-focussing on the work at the expense of the many perks I’ve enjoyed. And doing my own photocopying and fed-exing and such. I dunno. More coffee. The long, dark coffee-spoon measured walk of the soul in the park can come later.

ali bomaye
Thursday September 11th 2008, 10:58 pm
Filed under: hangover,Miscellaneous, Truly,quotation,reminiscence,tired Tags:

Can’t remember the last time I watched When we were kings. Think it may well have been in 3 Fyfield, a long long long time ago. I downloaded it sometime 2006-7, living solo in the old place, but never felt the momentum to watch it before. YCT is to bed, but not before she watched the rope-a-dope, that right fist, cocked as Ali circles around Foreman, a dance of intricacy and rhythm that only Mailer and Plimpton could…oh, wait. A four-figure afternoon at the invitation/design people, followed by under an hour’s work to come up with a digital save-the-date. I could’ve done the invites, too, but no one asked me, really. And I don’t do letter press, so much, although I’m sure I could’ve dug up some book-producing hand-pressing artist sorts. In fact, thinking about it, I know someone with a press up in the Bay Area. But that is not the wedding-to-be.

Off the drugs that’ve been fucking with me. Not that I’m free of the depressive tendencies, left to my own devices. But that shit wasn’t right. Off the nicotine, for that matter, if over compensating with the alcohol. Not that those two ever stood in any inverse relation. But I’m re-approaching whatever the fuck normal is, with a dvd in the drive featuring 1 Woody Allen film, 3 Hitchcocks, The City of Lost Children, and When We Were Kings. You turn that into something coherent; I’m not so fucking fussed.

Oracle, barnacle
Wednesday September 10th 2008, 3:53 pm
Filed under: blah,dead languages,depression,inner-polish-teenage-girl,self-indulgent,sober Tags:

The god of itunes says “I wanna be adored.” Not too far off, really. Hangover fades, and I’ve cancelled fencing for the eve. 2 weeks in and already heading the other direction? Or a momentary hiccup, connected to the larger crisis of the end of summer/coming of fall/coming of a year for which I just don’t care. Hard to get motivated when it looks like a life sentence of teaching Chaucer (whom I’m not even all that fond of, truth be told, but manage to muster great enthusiasm in front of audiences. What’s the first piece of medieval literature that made you cry, he asked, and she blanked, and I panicked, because I never have. Perhaps tears of frustration at some point, but not for the beauty. The beauty that hurt so much I had to chase it elsewhere – other books, music, jazz, even a life fucking lived. And the beauty I now fear, a bit, knowing it’s going to hurt, knowing that capacity isn’t gone, but the rebound from pain ain’t as quick when these bones were young.) Off to sit in traffic. What a town, this.