Did I?
Sunday October 28th 2012, 10:28 pm
Filed under: Miscellaneous, Truly Tags:

Did I do it because I _meant_ it? Or did I do it because I could?

Friday October 26th 2012, 9:39 pm
Filed under: Miscellaneous, Truly Tags:

Huh. How about that.

Thursday October 25th 2012, 11:22 pm
Filed under: damn,friends,myjobfuckingrocks,myjobfuckingsometimesdoesntrock,nextish,something new,tired,Work Tags:

Strange, really, to know when change will come. To have it be a pre-identified moment, rather than as uncertain as the possibility of change itself. Tomorrow, you will be different. Well, yes, of course, in the totally trivial ways of skin cells sloughed and hair follicles doing whatever the fuck it is hair follicles do, of a body in time moving through time, the I responsible for my actions and the gap in between. Different.

6 years, 8 months, and 2 weeks ago, I got a call. I was on my way with a friend to go skiing (for the first time in what must have been at least 15 years). NY being NY, we took the train up to Westchester, where her parents lived, and then were borrowing a car and headed up to Vermont from there. (Note: New England “mountains” are hills.) And the call came – it must have been a Friday, after school hours, as I was teaching at the time, so I imagine evening East Coast time. We were just about to finish loading things into the car and go. And a 310 area code could only mean one thing. Bless ’em, in one of the finest moments of parenting I’ve seen, they sent us up with champagne and flutes after I’d tried not to over-commit to an offer I was always going to accept. A weekend of texts and calls and emails and celebrations, of throwing my head back on chair lifts saying, “Oh my fucking god. I fucking did it. This is fucking happening.” A weekend of the storm of the century, as far as the city was concerned, and a subsidiary narrative about (now dead) pissy short angry gay episcopalian department chairs that I’ll save for another time. Oh my fucking god. I did it.

6 years, 8 months, and 2 weeks. 1 book, 4 edited chapters, 1 peer reviewed article, 1 edition/introduction for a textbook, and a few digital projects later, plus what must be close to 1,000 students, tomorrow something changes. I’m hoping it’s me. I’m hoping it’s like moving house, a chance to change the grooves, the habits, the unexamined choices that essentially dictate the day to day. I’m hoping it feels as big as it’s felt on the way up to all of this (knock on wood, or, as a half jew, just knock on anything – the wood is for christians. Speaking of which, apparently Gregory the Great is the patron saint of tenure, plus I think I have an Ismaili Muslim praying for me. What are friends for?) 6 years ago, a colleague told me he bought a grand piano and started lessons. I can afford neither, but, when all this comes out in the wash (in’sh’allah) in June, something along those lines, perhaps. A lovely evening with a man from the ford of Ox, who has made his career quite successfully in the UK. There was much talk of going the other direction, of seeing the other side. Some reminiscing, some shop talk, some more and less politic moments. But a truly nice time, a distraction from the thing that can’t be distracted from, that has me awake at nights, dreaming weird, and worried early.

“If you fear change, leave it here,” the tip jar at Wall Berlin said. Change is coming. Followed, admittedly, by a two hour university-level meeting, which is the single most obvious sign that I’ve apparently become a grown up. Pah. I still think the world missed a moment between 92 and 97 when anger could have been turned to good, rather than to rich. But that’s a rant for a different evening. Cross your fingers and your toes, pray to your gods and your deities and your ancestors. It’s showtime.

Thursday October 25th 2012, 11:19 am
Filed under: Miscellaneous, Truly Tags:

I want this to end, need this to end, need an answer. One way or the other. Though, obviously, I’d prefer the one. Not so much the other. Absence of strain not really working – a roundtable on tuesday had me sputtering and mumbling inarticulately as senior colleagues looked on. Of course. fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck.

Thursday October 18th 2012, 10:46 pm
Filed under: Boozy,Work Tags:

I think I’ve known greatness. Not me, fucker(s). I’m arrogant, but (just barely) not quite that arrogant. I’ve known greatness in others, and I wonder if it’s made it impossible for me to be (just) OK at the things I’m just OK at. There’s a lot buried in that just. (An alot?) Former students in London, former students with an eye on Harvard law, former students with their eye eyes on a future. And I wish I had more time to practice guitar, more money to buy an 88-key piano weighted keyboard, more space to think. It’s a job. One I hope to get to keep. Apparently “without reservations” is code, code that I missed, a hurdle I cleared or hoop I squeezed through without even knowing. How many other qualified qualifications shook out for or against me, without even knowing? One more week. Back to my drink.

Gotta believe (Three Colors, white)
Sunday October 14th 2012, 11:08 pm
Filed under: Boozy,tired,Work Tags:

I have to believe this matters. A soiree, yesterday evening, a gathering of all of those junior, as far as the profession is concerned, an insane line in the sand reflecting years of infantilization. “It’s a shame you’re too ‘junior’,” he said, with scare-quotes, with reference to a post with what might, if they’re lucky, be a 6 figure operating budget. I could raise that on Kickstarter, bitches. Anyway, at the gathering of the junior, speaking to my contemporary, a woman who started precisely when I did, and thus will find out in a few weeks what this version of the future holds. And she’s playing her cards cynically – unfussed, unflapped, unbothered. That the inevitability of this is a turn-off, that the rhetoric of the reference letter, so immediately recognizable, makes the external reports unworthy of consideration, unworthy, even, of being re-read. But I need to believe. It’s harder this way, certainly, but for the most part – I don’t know those people. They didn’t write out of obligation to me, rather than (again, in my need to believe) to some larger service to the field, the discipline, the very idea that this fucking matters. Naive? Blinkered, blinded, choosing to be dumb? It won’t be the first time. Like love, though, I need it to be real, I need it to count, I need it to hurt, I need it to be out of my control and push me to the limits of my control. (I need to do something….that matters.) Not quite Plath – no need to feel like hell, truly. I’m not 20 anymore, and I’m more likely to be the lampshade than the witness to it. Pain is not its own end, these days. But I need it to count, to be real, to matter, to reflect the years I’ve put in to the process, to at least in part take on board the decade and a half of not-being-dead that’s taken more effort than most imagine. The decade and a half of knowing-why-but-not-always-how, of knowing-this-matters-but-not-always-the-details, of obsessing-over-the-details. Of losing the plot, the forest, the trees, the girl, the boy, myself then, myself that other then (remember the time), cigarettes, youth, innocence, cynicism, and a few things, people, lifetimes besides. I can’t just wait the remaining 11 days, and there’s much to do (I have a few more major libraries to spam after Thursday’s first round). And maybe it’s crazy, or naive, or idiotic, or idealistic, or something that someone can diminish or cheapen. But I need it to matter, and so I believe it matters, and though the uncertainty is less uncertain than the toss of a coin, it’s real.

Three Colors, Third
Friday October 12th 2012, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Berkeley,Boozy,fall,memory,reminiscence,Work Tags:

I can’t recall the first time I saw Bleu/Blue. It must have been at the rep theatre in Berkeley, ’93 or ’94. As far as I can remember, the third time was just now, the second time Thanksgiving, 1996. The Berkeley rep theatre was playing all three films in a one-day marathon, and I boughts my tickets, ditched any familial obligations, and followed it with a coffee at Au coquelet, the too-cool-for-school coffee place just up the street. Juliet Binoche in jeans, black top, long coat, short hair – it makes me miss the 90s. Was the first viewing with now-NY-lawyer? It must have been. But the question that preoccupies me now is how I got there in the first place. I lunched, today, with a high school ex, my first real girlfriend, even. We’ve burned bridges, become friends, burned ’em again, and found our way through to a shockingly nice adult relationship. I said hi to her 16 month-old daughter and her husband before we grabbed a bite with a long, lovely walk on either side. In some ways, we didn’t have that much to say this time – our lives, so different, resemble each other’s in going fucking well, in being in good places, in being shaped around partners, daughters, others. But a mere few hours later, I know that the me that was with her was blind to most of the world, and certainly to anything like Bleu. So how did I get from her to, not much more than a year and change later, to subtitled Polish films in French in funky theatres in Berkeley? How did I suddenly wake to the heartache and beauty of this film, predicated on beauty, which I think I had a hint of, and loss, about which I knew nothing? How did it come to matter enough that I’d spend 6 hours on a Thursday in 96 _hiding_ from people I was related to in watching these films? And how does it still hurt so now? Binoche’s knuckles, dragging across an ivy-covered wall, and then just the stones of the wall itself. I think I learned that stole that borrowed that took that became that needed that from this film, that scene, the moment in that scene that marks the transition. Pain beyond pain beyond words beyond sense and, worse, sensibly in all its senses. I’m not there, now, though a Brodsky intro to a Hungarian mid-century novel I picked up several months ago has me ready. Condemned for being Borges, Joyce, Nadezhda Mandelstam, Solzhenitsyn, and a few others, he was, which sounds right up my fucking alley. (Hi, Ali). A report due today delayed. Not ominous, I don’t think (don’t quote me on this), merely the academic inability to meet deadlines. So, Monday instead of Friday. I’ve had a week with the external letters, read and reread and rereread and rererereread and read again. Sally Fields-style, they like me, and I can’t quite wrap my head around it, can’t quite let it be real until it’s real, and not just Department real but all the way final rubber stamped this time it’s final real, which means there are months to go before I sleep. Which is a bit on the ridiculous side, I’ll be the first to admit, but it won’t be the first time, as everyone I know wouldn’t be the first to admit. This is the endgame of a seventeen year project, give or take a few months. The ending of this phase is, I think, writ, though apparently some of us need till Monday to finish the draft. And two weeks from today a vote. Even while I wonder about openings in distant cities and even foreign shores, thinking about visas and work permits for the first time since I left, not quite with my tail between my legs, but with a passport freshly returned (for several hundred pounds ransom money) from Slough, and a vow (slough) never to return on uncertain terms. And the twist – what of YCTNW? I, perhaps, could go back, but without her I’m (not quite nothing, but much, much, much less). I want a blue chandelier to funk it up fuck it up, remind me of genius and loss and youth. I don’t know what I understood of this then, and have only a vague sense now. Two colors, soon, two colors I liked less, perhaps because I understood less. Two colors, two weeks, two sides to a vote, two places to send materials, two people in a little house that fits just so. Just ask stemmatic editors: two makes sense, three is hard. Three is where confusion sets in, where indeterminacy and uncertainty arise. Three is the magic number, trinity and all, because we’re so good at twos.

Don’t jinx it
Friday October 05th 2012, 10:06 pm
Filed under: can't make that shit up,dead languages,myjobfuckingrocks,something new,Work Tags:

This might actually work. This might actually happen. After all this, this might actually come to be. A few weeks more. A window to reply to the external letters until next week, at which point a report. A window to reply to the report until the following week. And the week that follows that week, the first round of three, the first (sort of) ex nihilo round of judgment and assessment. Don’t jinx it. This might actually work. This might actually happen. The letters, after 4 readings, continue to surprise. People I barely or don’t know at all weigh in on the work, my work, now less possessive and more public. I made my peace with being a public person, but apparently I wasn’t as clear on the work, now a month away from covers and binding, itself being public, itself being something that is no longer only me, only mine. The students, both graduate and undergraduate, just make me love them more. But their letters say they already know that. Confused. Emotionally exhausted. Endgame.