Back from MLA trip. Exhausted. Didn’t sleep well during the trip — probably due to massive doses of decongestants I had to take to keep from sneezing. Did get to catch up with friends. Delivered a paper. Saw my advisor (unplanned). Ate delicious food. Met at least one new person I’ll probably try to befriend. More next year. Have fun y’all. I’m going to curl up in bed now and try to rest though I can’t seem to sleep. PS Giles has been running up to me, lunging, woofing, and then running away. What does it mean?


Another bit from Matthew Stadler’s Landscape: Memory:

But it was the last part that bugged me most: “. . . the very young and the very old have poor memories; they are in a state of flux, the young because of their growth, the old because of their decay.” It was just like the mistake with buildings. In fact “the very old” have the best memories, the most cluttered and colorful and interesting memories. Just like old ruins holding more of the past. They are in a state of flux and will, I’ve found, often change their account of some past event, but always for the best. That is, the story gets closer to the truth, it’s refined by their changes. That seemed to be the nub of it: this stuff from the book implied that any change in a person’s memory would make that memory somehow worse, that memory should be a frozen, fixed thing, like a photograph.

I thought of nurselogs. It was hard not to, what with “decay” and “growth” written right there next to each other on the page. It seemed fitting, the thought of those big trees, felled by age and their own weight, blown over and rotting. Their decay is what gives rise to new growth. All the sturdiest saplings, the healthiest of the young trees rise from those fallen, rotten giants. And I think memory could be like that. What seems to us to be decay could be growth. Maybe good memory isn’t simply like a camera. Aren’t photgraphs as smooth and frozen and finished as those thin plaster walls of the Fair? Aren’t they just as flimsy?

. . .

All in all I found my painting a good sight more satisfying than the actual landscape. I had several choices and I faced them boldly. I chose to make excuses and go with my aesthetic impulse. My impulse was to leave my work as it was and forge ahead. My excuse was that my memory was more like a nurselog than a camera. I was remembering the trouble I’d had with Cicero. If he was right, if my memory ought to be an accurate replica of the original experience, if that was so, my painting was hopelessly inaccurate. It was a bad painting of a fuzzy memory. But I preferred to think that memory is never frozen, nor should it be. My painting was a successful rendering of the dynamic memory that had simply begun with the original event. It accurately captured the decaying grotesque of memory that lay rotting in my head, that fallen nurselog out of which so much of value must be growing. My painting, I figured, was so very accurate in its depiction of this memory that it would inevitably look wrong when compared to the original model.


A key among the rocks outside the car shop.

The $20 oil change this morning blossomed into a $150 bill. There were air filters and wiper blades to be replaced and a host of other services the shop man insisted my car needed. Sigh. This is why my parents made my brother and me take auto shop in high school — so that we could do car maintainence ourselves or at least understand what needs to be done in order to avoid being fleeced by the auto repair industry. Unfortunately, that class consisted of the shop teacher hanging out with the kids who already knew how to take care of cars and the rest of us taking crowbars to cars, smashing windshields and tearing apart donated wrecks from which the experienced kids had already removed salvageable parts. It also was the class where I hung out with the drug dealing crowd at my school. The smokers lit up behind the auto shop building, too. I received one of only two B’s in high school in that class. (FYI, the other B was actually in English, of all subjects!) This tickles me no end — how that class completely failed my parents’ grand schemes in many ways.


This is the life my brother leads, I think. Constant visits to malls and movie theaters. We went to the malls Monday, Tuesday, and today. On Wednesday, we caught a Timberwolves basketball game at the Target Center in the evening after spending a more leisurely day mostly at home. Yesterday was a snow day. We rented a few movies but just got around to watching Kane: See No Evil, one of those gruesome torture movies with a thin veneer of being a psychological thriller. Then today, we hit the stores again and watched Rocky Balboa at the movie theater. It was so not my cup of tea, but my brother thought it was excellent.

At some point I should probably work on my MLA paper.


I have been having violent sneezing fits today. I think I missed my allergy meds yesterday. Also, it could be a cold.

It’s slushy-raining out. A bit hazardous on the sidewalks. I wonder how the roads are.

My conference proposals have been rejected quite a lot this year. :( I wonder how much of it has to do with the substance of my proposals and how much might have to do with my new institutional affiliation. I wonder how my proposal reads to people once I’m no longer associated with a research institution…. The good news is that my presentation was accepted for this upcoming year’s Asian American studies conference (hello New York!), but the other panel I helped put together was rejected. :(


We spent a couple hours at the coffee shop.

I read a bit from Matthew Stadler’s Landscape: Memory.

Here are some delightful passages:
He was a muscular fur-ball, speckled gray and bristling from nose to tail. Damp nose, quivering tail. His eyes were black pools, bulging wet black pools, like licorice candies someone had licked. I pushed my face into the trousers and felt his whiskers brush across my cheek.

Today I finished Frankenstein. I fancy the monster’s a woman, as he seems to suffer all that women suffer. He’s not allowed to speak. He’s judged by his appearance only. He must stand by and wait for a rather infantile man to do the necessary work, allowed to help only through threats and cajoling. As it’s written by a woman I imagine she intended it as a parable, but Mother tells me my reading is incorrect. It’s about Prometheus, she says, and the horrible things that happen when man plays at being God. I don’t mind that I’m wrong really, but I like imagining the monster in a dress.