do neither what i say nor do
Tuesday June 04th 2019, 11:57 pm
Filed under: Berkeley,Boozy,change,exit,myjobfuckingrocks,myjobfuckingsometimesdoesntrock,narrative,nextish Tags:

This in fact describes Himself and some spectacularly shitty evenings of late. But that’s not today’s topic. I’ve been asked to give the faculty graduation speech. I have no fucking idea what to say. Or, more accurately, I thought I had a few ideas, but dinner with a few colleagues and a handful of graduate students this evening and they all thought it was all wrong. OK. Fair enough. I’ve got 10 days. Some suggestions to watch various graduation speeches of this and that. OK. Fair enough.

Except, I’m the opening act. I’m not the big, inspiring, forgive all your student debt, famous person speech. I’m the guy who goes before that person. I’ve been in such a rubbish place for a while now that the standing joke has become reality. “It’s not too late to go to law school. Maybe as the environment changes and the waters rise you’ll all die terribly and then you won’t have to worry about it.”

The graduate students all suggested some version of “the you we know is great, be that person.” I suppose that’s fair, though the specific nature of the self-constructedness for a reading group on Finnegans Fucking Wake isn’t a self I trot out universally, so, “be the version of you we think we know, be honest about your pragmatism, and if in doubt just spew medieval facts at them,” offers only limited help.

How to be myself to students that know a me that is such a strange slice of who I think I am or who I thought I’d be? Or, if this is the moment to peel back the layers and be a little more of a person as we send them out into the world that, frankly, they all fucking live in already given how nuts the world is and how thin the wall of academia has become, how permeable the not so ivory tower, which layers? Turtles all the way down, onions all the way through.

I’ve got quotes for mother fucking ages. Randomly browsing poetry for some inspiring shit. I’ve no idea what I want to say, what 22 year old me wanted to hear, or SHOULD have heard, or could possibly have heard. Nothing. There’s nothing anyone could have told me. Which is a shame, as I’m actually listening now.

Short month, long day
Wednesday February 07th 2018, 2:27 pm
Filed under: blah,myjobfuckingsometimesdoesntrock Tags:

One more candidate. One more dinner. 3 weeks of Thursdays I’d rather not.

Slog. Whinge. Trudge.


And so the last weekend of a decade passes thusly. Errands, work, walk, drinks. Eat, narrative, more narrative. Walk, errands, play, narrative, eat, drink. Bustling, walk, music, drinks, eat, narrative, drink.

Much reflecting of late, as the decade ticks around again, but he looks up at me. Not much by way of conclusion, nor thoughts that add up to anything in particular. I’ll take it, I guess.

no easier
Wednesday July 02nd 2014, 10:10 pm
Filed under: money,myjobfuckingrocks,myjobfuckingsometimesdoesntrock Tags:

not that it’s so very hard, really, but a request, made long ago at someone’s suggestion, didn’t pan out. A dangerous precedent, apparently, which is bullshit speak for “we can’t reward those who make up for the mismanagement of others.” But ain’t no thang – I stopped counting on this long ago, and stopped counting it not long after that.

A shiny new gadget with which to type on my slightly less shiny, slightly less new gadget. It will take some getting used to, but it’s a fuck of a lot faster than the poke-n-pray of a touchscreen. Not totally convinced I want to write a book on it, but then I probably shouldn’t write a book sprawled on my couch, listening to Nick Drake, a bottle of wine deep in the evening.

Night two of ?eleven or so, meetings in the morning where I work, meetings in the afternoon where I’ll be working, pups before, in between, and after. No writing done, of course, as that would be too useful. But tomorrow, writing, piano, maybe an early feature on analog synthesis, and drinks with my piano teacher. As you do. As you were.

New / Old

A month missed. Less fussed. A new tattoo, the first in 16 years. Compensating? I don’t really give a fuck. Starting the cap-in-hand rounds anew and with renewed vigour, but first two old things to sort, and then something new. Même chose, bitches.

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.

Chicken vs pork
Friday January 27th 2012, 10:39 pm
Filed under: myjobfuckingsometimesdoesntrock,nextish Tags:

Despite my resolve to bring in the new year with jazz, I find myself listening to ever more obscure (by my standards, which isn’t saying much) indie bands. Despite my resolve to catch some live jazz, to make going to see new or excititing or just foundational gigs central to my life, instead, 3 weeks in to the year, I’m closer to heading to the echo and the troubadour and the venues of bands that aren’t jazz.

Yesterday’s resolve of confidence upheld, to a certain extent, but moderated by the changed responsibilities of being he who has rather than he who wants. Making those outside feel welcome, and that they have a place, even if it’s not all the way in. Making those adjacent feel valued, a tiny bit less contingent, even though they’ll always be contingent precisely because they’re a little less valued, not quite esteemed in the same way. The reminder, basically, that being right is less important than being a good person sometimes. That being bold from within the establishment isn’t necessarily boldness, but can be rude, ruthless, careless, or cruel. Trying too hard, perhaps, is one read of the confidence of yesterday’s and yesteryear’s nothing to lose. But there’s plenty left to risk and plenty to lose, and plenty to lose by not risking loss.

To make amends
Saturday October 08th 2011, 10:25 pm
Filed under: HelLA,myjobfuckingrocks,myjobfuckingsometimesdoesntrock,something new Tags:

Like shadows who have offended at the end of the play? Or, wanting a life / to make more sense? Both, I suppose, as Zoe Keating plucks and bows in the background and my lightly-red-wine-sodden brain figures out the ways to tap my thoughts through this. I don’t know who or why the email went to the lot of us, but it did, and thus the Swell Season film downtown crossed my radar. And so we went. The film was mediocre, the music exquisite. Identifying with victim and victimizer, with the search and with the calm that can only come from denying the search, my mind and soul were busy for an hour and a half. I had amends to make, sure, but it’s been a while, really, and the forgiveness i never asked for around my ankle, the trespasses in translation, have rather diminished over the years. I recognize his relentless shuffle forward, to some degree. He’ll never unproblematically want what he has, and that i understand, the condemnation of desire attained. But the problematics run deeper, and release is complicated. And this I know, and it makes the rawness raw and the sorrows of knowledge obtained real. As I pick my way through a post-manuscript life, choosing music and films and having the rEading done long before class, I tap dance around the decisions I’ve never really wanted to make. The bay area calls and I brag of the future of the past that is past and must contribute to my future and wonder and wander and wonder what comes next. What book, what story, what visualization, is the next next of nextness?

On the evening before the time before the time before it’s really done but it is really done, really

If you know what I mean and I think you do? A list that gets ever stranger as the days pass, from checking for first citations to cautioning myself not to disagree with Ralph if I don’t have to bigger things, like those last, few, jewel-like sentences I hope to dash off and inscribe with great dignity at the end of the introduction. There will be not blood but changes still to come, more midnight oil to burn. But this is the bulk of it, I think – most everything will be mechanical, or will be reduced to the mechanical, from here. And thus, a sense of finality, tempered by the realization that, of course, it’s not really final, but also by the raw need for closure on this project.

A friend submitted just yesterday (though why I bother with anonymity when 1) no one reads this, and 2) if any one reads this, they know me, and each other, I don’t know). The strange techno-connection of skype, red bricks and green lawns and an impossible implausible summer day in late September Oxenford. Writing acknowledgements for publication is a strange endeavour. The heartfelt thank yous. The I met you at a conference once thank yous. The politically important, financially important thank yous. The thanking of family, who have everything and nothing to do with the work – (Thanks for fucking me up. All that anger really helped me get shit done over the years.). A bit of nostalgia, a bit of wonder, a strong desire for a wander, and mostly the simple tiredness of having gone to bed late and woken to early and talked for 4 hours with students in various degrees of interest and care. C’est la guerre. The milestones, they accrue, but also begin to resemble each other, to some extent. Only because there are more of them? Their scale, skewed by perspective? I suppose, after my fashion, my thanks are due to the Academy, for having a game to play that I’ve played well enough, so far. But, in the immortal words of the recently-submitted, “Fuck the boat. There is no boat.”

Regularly scheduled

Tonight’s regularly scheduled Nostalgia-Fest(tm) has been delayed due to eminently foreseeable circumstances. A contract offered, yesterday, an early morn and the closure of an exam today. One to London, one to New York, one here for a bit before heading to San Francisco, one to the Air Force and another back to his baby boy. They don’t tell you, not the places you’ll go, but the people you’ll say goodbye to as they go to those places. And so, flint (as is apparently the case with my Reading Abbey wall fill rubble) to the tinder, movies of promise and regret and loss before it’s lost to spark the few bits of fuel not already consumed.