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.



Pretty Good Year/Salad
Saturday September 08th 2018, 8:22 pm
Filed under: Berkeley,friends,memory,narrative,summer Tags:

The pancetta made the salad, really. Can’t think of a whole lot of nights, home alone with time, that salad was the choice, but a box of delivered vegetables forces some decisions.

Day one, solo plus small. No sweat. Tired, but fine.

Just finished a friend’s novel. Apparently I’m doing that, now. I’ve read a bunch of books by a bunch of friends, but they’ve mostly been academic/critical propositions, rather than novels. Not entirely: cancer-NY-now-Boston is a novelist, and I’ve loved her novels, though her memoir-of-disease hasn’t quite been do-able yet. Though a night spent talking long in NY, of bodies redefined by illnesses unknown, and seeing hemophilia and cystic fibrosis through that lens was revelatory. Which is, of course, what friends are for.

But this was a grad school novel, so a bit on the hybrid side. (Next up the German mystery/thriller? Maybe. For shits and giggles and vague resentment at a life lived in Berlin, perhaps.) Plus it was erotica-esque, which knowing the novelist isn’t all that surprising. Her mind/body dichotomy literally staged in the book, her work on the staging of that divide (Beckett, by way of Molloy and Nine Inch Nails, really), and a move from CA to Michigan more than enough to make a person horny and rather thoughtful. But she’s one of the few I know who walked away – who figured out what she wanted to do, and does it, and means it, rather than the treadmill upon which both success and failure are measured. (Though, her point is difficult to swallow, even from the end of the treadmill where I stand, not too smugly, but not too miserably either, I don’t think. But I may be doing this wrong, though that was our academic generation’s imperative, to live through this ™.)

She’s not a friend any more, really, though she was one, and a lover for a while. I’m glad I read it, as it makes me feel closer to her, though we haven’t spoken in 20 odd years, and wonder about my choices, as the best narratives do. But I think I’ll leave it.

Some toys to tidy, some bread to bake. My life got weird.

 



Got a light?
Monday April 16th 2018, 7:37 pm
Filed under: birthday,narrative,reminiscence Tags:

 

A windy day, restoring some of the lost sense of possibility that the move has created. A Hal Hartley film and a nice Spanish red, some quiet time alone with an aesthetic that has aged along with me. Birthday greetings from the woman who tried to make me appreciate films. Thank you. I’m sorry NY last time didn’t work.

 

The books mostly unpacked and on shelves, a few boxes of stuff there wasn’t space for, a box of books to pitch – too awful to donate, even, and the magic neighborhood curbside disappearance program is 12 miles  east of here. We hiked the mustard flowers, but it confused himself. Which should have been obvious

Back to my red.