Slogging for a pittance
Friday August 02nd 2019, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Boozy,change,himself,holidays,inner-polish-teenage-girl,seasonal,Work Tags:

Which couldn’t even vaguely describe things now. But certainly did for a long time, but the long time is getting longer ago, and as the years roll on the proportions look ever stranger.

“When you had to work so hard / Slogging for a pittance / In a boot and shoe yard / That’s when you wanted/ What you now give away”

I had to look up the lyrics – they hit me as meaningful at the same time I was all, “in a what and what yard, now?” On my way back from spending an absurd amount of money on dinner ingredients for one, which might be better understood as two nice bottles of wine, and some nice stuff to cook.

Sent an article out today – not to a journal, oh no, but to a semi-distant colleague, for a sanity check. I’ll revise it later in response to their comments, then submit it properly. It’s never going to be perfect, this, the thing that will almost certainly be the most cited thing I ever write. I just want it not to be wrong, to be good enough to hold up without evident error. Even that seems nuts.

For a lazy person, I’ve become pretty shitty at not working. What’s tomorrow- day one a weeklong revisit of that other article, or move straight to the book chapter to sustain the research trip in Sept.? See, that’s nuts. That’s not summer. That’s not me, but, frankly, it’s not not me either. Lamenting (or, being honest) to a newish friend that I’m not very good at this tenuring thing. She offered to dog sit, which helped with my fantasy of summering in a farm house in funny corners of France of England or Italy with YCT and himself. But the learned behavior runs rather deeper than that.

A quiet night, followed by a string of busy ones, then they come home again. Odd to have the space and time here, in a strangely hollowed-out version of daily life. The comforts of home even while rattling around a bit, wondering where the fuck everyone went. Or something. My god the years have rolled on. The vibrancy of the music playing from 25 years ago outshines whole years in the last decade. And so we grow old.

Both hands. Please use both hands. No, don’t close your eyes.
Thursday June 21st 2018, 9:44 pm
Filed under: Boozy,can't make that shit up,friends,holidays,seasonal,summer Tags:

Both hands – neither carrying a child. The enormous amount of energy worrying about someone else’s bladder for the last month is lifted, for a week. And so here I am, lady and gentleman (actually, I think that’s an accurate summary of my audience), deep into the red wine after a dinner of ridiculous home-made pizza. Gotta work on the transfer to the newly arrived pizza stone, and the dough was too thick, but the cream/onion reduction sauce was pretty killer.

A tenure track job for an old ?friend?. Acquaintance? I don’t know what the fuck he is. He’s been in LA for years and years, and we’ve had drinks twice; once sucked, once was delightful. And now he’s off to a TT job in an East Coast College Town. This is the man who, over drinks in Chicago, as we drank for the second time in a decade, told me that his then-girlfriend-now-wife had only ever known him on the market. I lack words to imagine that as a sustained existence. I don’t think I realized, quite, the person I was to the people who knew me 2003/4-2006. Nor those who know me for the next 7 years. I’ve always gotten it done, and though I’ve studiously (ha) avoided facing the price, I know it’s been substantial.

Drinks with one of my oldest friends before YCT and Small left. Mid-afternoon beers after a morning co-oping at the small’s preschool. As I try to get better at this tenure shit (though, 90 minutes of cooking for one this evening was probably overkill). He described it as something he described to others as the Robin Hood trick of shooting a bullseye and then splitting the first arrow with a second. Someone I underestimate occasionally, and who occasionally reminds me not to underestimate.

Since my last, San Francisco, sushi, City Lights, Berkeley. Un-processable experiences, almost, mid-May, a lifetime/month ago. Joy with a friend. Uncomplicated pleasure in places where the pleasure of youth was mixed with a lot of the suffering of youth. Long walks and long talks and a _friend_. Not my strong suit.

A mixed day of work and errands and different errands and different work. And cooking. And music. As you would, if you could. And I can. So I did.

Platitudes and Attitudes
Sunday June 18th 2017, 10:39 pm
Filed under: Berkeley,myjobfuckingrocks,nextish,seasonal,summer Tags:

20 Fucking Years. 20 years ago, it was outside, in the Greek Theater. A hot fucking day, particularly by Bay Area standards. I don’t remember much – the guest speaker was one of the founders of the ?Center for Independent Living, a heavily disabled man in a full body respirator who had finished college. It was inspiring, in principle, but very difficult to understand. Add a flask of vodka and the buzz of it all on a hot ?late May day, a party which followed, and some complicated, possibly questionable decisions that followed that, followed by a paper on medieval religious history, followed by a series of even more complicated, definitely questionable decisions over a summer neither weird nor good, just next (oh! And a lost pair of expensive sunglasses! At Wall Berlin, no less), and, comparatively, today was much easier. Dog poop, child poop, trains and duplo and kicking a ball around, a few speeches, a handful of hugs, a commute on freeways through a city I still resent but have also grown to appreciate, rely on, inhabit. Fancy medieval clothes in scarlet, a sense of pleasure on behalf of the students and families.

Is it enough? We certainly try to justify it to ourselves as such. That what we do is much, much more than doing nothing. More than buying things, selling things, building things, fixing things, marketing things, or organizing or negotiating some aspect of any of those activities. I’ve no idea, really. It makes it easier to sleep, thinking the university matters, the public-ness of it matters, that teaching them to read, speak, and write critically about words and ideas matters. (Or, trying to. I don’t need them to love what I love. I do need them to care about something.) Everything rings a bit hollow on these days, overshadowed by the realness of the experience they’re having. So grown up and so young, so excited and so somber. Was I wearing the pull-chain choker? Or the one made out of nuts and bolts wired together? That picture with the Campanile in the background the last known whereabouts of those sunglasses. Gone. Like this impossible year, and like that summer 20 years ago, things happen fast.

Eleventh Fall
Monday September 19th 2016, 9:24 pm
Filed under: calendars,can't make that shit up,nextish,seasonal,tired Tags:

Having been shopping for child seats for a bike, not a great title, perhaps. But so it goes. 10 fucking years. 11 fall quarters. Thousands of students. And today, the 8th volunteer day, sorting canned goods at a food bank. The kids are alright (though, I know I wasn’t a kid at 18. Nope. Not at all.). Amusing that one of them was a junior-year-abroad from London, via TCD, who when I was describing my current book to a crowd tilted his head and said “Ashburnham House”?

Playing with the finally-upgraded new version of Logic, messing with vocals from North Oxford two? three? life-times ago.Double-tracking, re-pitching for harmonies and counter-lines, fiddling with pitch and timing for realism. Oh, the things you can do. Technology. Kids today. Etc.

Mostly, tired. But I try to begin fall with something more than the baseline of requisite enthusiasm. A few days in DC getting actual work done were a nice push to slough off the summertime sadness of another 6 weeks sold for money in a compromise I will always resent. Gonna be a busy year. It always is, but this one looks like more work and less ohmygodchildicanthelpfuckitivegotanexcusesorrybye.

tempura tempora
Wednesday September 10th 2014, 9:50 pm
Filed under: Boozy,himself,seasonal,something new,tired,transitions Tags:

Deep fried time. A few more local deadlines – a final exam tomorrow, papers to grade and finals to grade. And then a few weeks to sort myself, solo, to get some work done. And then, TIME. Time ticking down to the arrival, of course, that’s one of the only clocks really pressing on me. A strange lull, this evening, as YCT meets with her writing group, her own work nearing a pivotal series of moments that will, in’sh’alla, lead from private to public. A strange lull, this, with a few weeks of the archive on the horizon, and then a YEAR of time (well, 9 months, but subtract and then re-add 6 weeks at the end, and there’s some uncertainty about the status of the 10 weeks after that, which could go either way). But, a YEAR (loosely defined) of time to work, to write, to think, to be properly miserable and DO something with the misery other than shut it down to get the devoirs done. To find new rhythms and new habits and new ways to indulge, no, to engage in existing hobbies. It all goes out the door, of course, in some ways, but so what? Burn the shit? I have time. I’m where I want to be, if not quite who I want to be, and certainly doing what I always said I would, and I’m not that fussed whether or not I feel I haven’t won at all. As half of ABBA would write. “Coming up for air” sings The Acid on KCRW, and I think, yes. That. Exactly fucking that.

A minor
Monday June 24th 2013, 10:47 pm
Filed under: Berkeley,Boozy,change,friends,inner-polish-teenage-girl,seasonal,teaching Tags:

It’s all white keys and it’s sort of wistful. I really must stop being so musically lazy. A friend’s wedding in the desert by the river. A second attempt, this time with friends and family and ritual, rather than Vegas and Immigration. And two who long ago (a decade) stopped speaking to me. For lying to them? For sleeping with her? For being a self-obsessed asshole? I don’t recall (probably because I’d rather not), and though it matters, deeply, I’m not convinced it does. From finishing the last of the last Thursday to a drive on Friday and being back in today, trying to have my stars out, as it were, for the class including her son’s ex-girlfriend. Because “Young and the Restless” ran out of other sub-plots, apparently. And so another six weeks, days of talking and days of writing, evenings of reading and evenings of drinking, and Am, sounding so lovely across electric pianos and synth trumpets with articulations that will never match those in a sampler, but have me facing the keys, not the box. I don’t need analogue, really, I need only to look away from the screen, lean deeper into the headphones, and record with the impunity I lost since the first round of get it out / get it in / get it down came and went again when she wasn’t quite an ex (though I tried to leave that summer) and everybody talked to everybody (in grade school), though the two, so preciously recovered (even if the closeness is not necessarily one of many words, rather than many years) is back as a possibility. Or something. A minor, a ssociate.

Sunday May 26th 2013, 11:39 pm
Filed under: Boozy,change,inner-polish-teenage-girl,memory,nostalgia,reminiscence,scooters,seasonal,whatsnext Tags:

Or, as The Bird and the Bee would have it, again and again and again and again / do it again. Nina Simone playing in the background, a nod to the same coming of age/romance films that have occasioned alarmingly much of the little writing found here in the last handful of years, 1995, 2004, and the latest before movie on the docket for tomorrow. For all of the ways in which I don’t want to live here, I’m rather reliant upon being able to see such films upon demand, before release, or to go see Joss talk after a screening of his latest. Entitlement meets indifference, sprezzatura meets traffic, soul meets mate. “Unexcited”, the cover of the nyt magazine reads (though, apparently, according to yctnw, it’s a matter of female sexual desire / drugs for same in one’s 50s+. I had thought it was a larger ennui / late life boredom issue. Which I suppose it is, in some ways – things not working? Things not exciting? Take drugs.) Anyway_s_, he said, with a nod to the boy who is now a young man who should really call his bloody mother, these damn movies. A student, a few years ago, talking about growing up the same age as Harry Potter, identifying beyond protagonist to deeper transitions and dilemmas of self. And these movies, I think, broadly appealing similarly – what it is to be young and in love, 32 and both in love and not in love and somewhat successful but not done, and above all being not 23. And, tomorrow, though I’ve assiduously avoided spoilers, to the point of reading no press or interviews or previews or even adjacent press on the matter, the 7-up for my romantic soul, the self that wrote, with the dark and biter passion of 18, “love, and I wish I could say always, but we both know it can’t be so” (or something vaguely similar. I’d have no ask her to dig the copy of R&G off her bookshelf and read me the ?incriminating? inscription), though I can’t remember seeing either film in the theatre, to the point of rather wondering if I did, or if it was blurry VHS and second run at the Sunshine or the Angelika. So with new 88 keys and hours of music made in the last few days, we’ll go see tomorrow if it resonates then as it has resonated for so long, whether they have something to say beyond what I’ve known, or are just a travel-porn version of lives i actually have lived. Or something.

where do we go / from here
Thursday November 29th 2012, 10:30 pm
Filed under: jazz,seasonal,whatsnext Tags:

Apparently I was waiting for permission. The vote was yay, the trip to Paris was a trip of some work and much non-work. The book exists qua book. But, despite the trappings, apparently I needed to hear it from the closest thing I’ve had to a mentor. Or perhaps just senior colleague might be the better description. That in itself was rare enough. Hoops jumped through, dented slightly on the way through, but the “long, slow exhale” that had begun, with the edges of the ragged breaths of tears, begins more convincingly. And drinks again with a drinker, from a local adjacency, interested in some of the things I’m interested in. Chicks in black tights, alas, have their well known propensities, and her enthusiasms would normally be the point at which I withdraw (or, go in for the kill, in an earlier life). But instead I enjoy the avidity, knowing my discomfort with ‘avidly’ as a category now site. And thoughts back to the interfaith friend’s claim I summarize back to him what he says, but with insight – is that, really, my skill. My notes to prepare for the interview for this, seven fucking years ago. “Where do you see the field in 5-10 years,” that is, now. Where I’m mainstream and my work is central? Pretty much. And lo, it was so. Plus Paris nostalgia and a quick Before Sunset rewatch for the nth time. The 30-something passion of disillusion and passion more recognizable as the years roll on than the 20-something passion of 20-something, even while walking through Pere Lachaise and across Pont Neuf. The student who pointed out how many things about her plans and projects I’m forgetting, and the idea that i should just keep a file per student, and notes, as it’s all too much to keep in my head, loose and, apparently, falling out.

Now I, too, put things in boxes. Not just knowledge of them, but being able to Access to them was precious beyond words, depths and moments shared of past selves made present, of present selves made sensible. ‘Who’s going to ride my wild horses’ become ‘who’s going to rifle through my boxes’. And yet, they’re there (on tarps, mostly, though the rain has me worried that damp may pervade the literal, rather than metaphorical, boxes).

And again and again and again and again: what’s next. how’s next. why next. what’s next what was. how does what’s next change what was. why does what next matter.

the imperative to do the next thing. the demand to look to the now that got lost, sometimes, in the doing that got here.

Saturday November 05th 2011, 11:18 pm
Filed under: Boozy,seasonal Tags:

Narratives colliding, intersecting, entangling, disentangling. Simplicity from the wrong side of it looks empty rather than the foundation of possibility. Disentangling unimaginable, even as twenty years of time suddenly becomes something else entirely. And it’s not him, the strangest thing, the man who was guaranteed to go first. Baggage is the popular euphemism, but narrative trajectory might be a better frame. I once promised it wouldn’t be, that I didn’t do, tragedy. And it wasn’t and I didn’t, with all of the Proustian horror that accompanies loving once, loving again. I didn’t even bring something to write in up to the Bay the other week. It wasn’t a trip that was going to be conducive for that, really, but I used to live my life _around_ writing, whereas now it’s something I avoid except when I can’t any longer, something I try to remember to dig deep to find the time to do in the few, pathetically few, moments where I allow myself to be allowed to want again. I don’t think I would have found the time, or made it, or had it, or verbed it, though it was observed that I verbed her, all those years ago, until a second opinion over hipster coffee suggested it wasn’t her but him, a manic splenetic once-idol lying deeply buried at the bottom of the drip castle story. An unusual, boozy evening, the rhythms of (this) writing quite alien to the regimented and footnoted agonizing march of prose, finally off my desk (though it will return again). But this isn’t about work, and isn’t about that writing, and isn’t about who I didn’t know I might once have thought I wanted to be while becoming the person (man!) I’ve become, am, am wondering about. The bony shoulder was strong, at first, as I could always listen and find something to say, but didn’t have a voice. And then I found my voice and the shoulder diminished, because, voice, songs, bodies. But the helplessness of the ignorance, the innocence, that was the shoulder – it hovers on the horizon, not so distant, not so detached. Timing is everything, with the words that say nothing.

they walked
Saturday June 11th 2011, 11:56 pm
Filed under: damn,departure,exit pursued by a bear,leaving,memory,seasonal,teaching Tags:

I didn’t, not in the way that matters. And she gave birth to a healthy little girl (mazel tov), and I didn’t. All these passings and passages and rites thereof, speeches and words and photos and moments you’re supposed to remember. And I don’t, really. Or worse, I do, to the letter, but not the why, not the part that made you want to remember it in the first place. Significant for the process, the experience, not merely the symbolic. “What I am to you” says the music in the background. I’ve never known, but perhaps I thought I knew then. ….[update]. In Spite of Me the next track, all too apt in its all too aptness. Perhaps not far off what I feel for these not-really-kids. Another annual rite of passage, tomorrow, as my father sacrifices himself on the altar of his own mediocrity for another year, while Mark Sandman and I are hanging, late tonight, in my living room.