Monday, April 30, 2001["Experts Say That Cheaper Drug Treatments Alone Are Not Enough" by Barbara Crossette]. Although the end of the first paragraph seems iffy -- implying the implausibility of a broad approach to the global AIDS pandemic, this article raises many of the important issues groups like the Global AIDS Alliance (GAA) and [UNAIDS] have addressed regarding plans to turn back the spread of AIDS. Of course, I'm also partial to the following excerpt:
"AIDS is no longer only a disease of the individual; it is a societal malignancy," wrote Eric A. Friedman of the Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School and Paul Z. Zeitz of the Global AIDS Alliance in a paper last month. The Global AIDS Alliance is a group formed this year to advocate broader support for programs to fight the disease on many fronts.
"An expanded concept of prevention is required, one that includes food security, efforts to empower women, and other ways of addressing societal problems," Mr. Friedman and Mr. Zeitz wrote. They put the cost of dealing with the wider devastation of AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa at $15 billion annually.
It's always great to see well-deserved acknowledgement (here in the form of citation by a respected news source) of important research/work done by [my friends].
>> 9:08 PM
Monday mail call is my favorite. I don't get much snail mail, but Mondays have always held a particular spell over me in terms of anticipating mail. I suppose it's the thought that Monday's mail is really two days' worth of mail, and therefore there should be twice as many goodies for me. And even though day after day I bring in just junk mail and circulars, I still hold on to that hope that someone, someday, will send me something nice.
>> 3:00 PM
Saturday, April 28, 2001["Letters to a Young Poet"] now. These letters are remarkable. In them, Rilke writes about what it means to be a poet, an artist. He writes about needing to write. And although his vision of the artist is almost excessively Romantic, I can't help but feel attracted to it. And I want to pursue it, to figure out what I can do, why I write, etc.
>> 5:37 PM
And in some ways it's easy to extract myself from all the craziness. Even though I do get caught up in all the drama of my life (as shown even in or more strikingly in this journal), I can at the next turn find myself lost in a timeless space, a place devoid of the stuff of everyday life. I can feel as if nothing matters, as if there is nothing that can move me. It's a moment of detachment, but also a moment of calmness. I feel oddly at-one with myself and an abstract understanding of things as inevitable yet unimportant.
>> 10:59 AM
Thursday, April 26, 2001
>> 10:21 PM
>> 6:30 AM
Wednesday, April 25, 2001
[Comedians and columnists will continue to insist they mean no harm, that their yellow humor is all in good fun. They can't imagine what kung pao cocker spaniel has to do with political persecution and racist violence. Would that these jesters existed in a vacuum, where racy speech never had racist consequences.]
>> 9:18 AM
Tuesday, April 24, 2001
It all reminds me again of this insidious leaving of my childhood friends. I feel as if I must have written about this before, but it's still there, it still lingers like a ghost in my mind. In the second grade, my family moved from one suburban California city in the East Bay to another in Contra Costa County. I don't know why, but the move seemed so sudden. And there was an air of silence about it -- I vaguely remember my parents admonishing us children not to tell people about our move. And even then I think I knew they didn't want certain people to know about our move -- the insistent social paranoia of my parents about social status and all that. And the oddest thing to me is that we were moving to a wealthier neighborhood, a distinctly whiter one, too. It would seem that my parents didn't want to tell these nebulous others directly or have them find out too quickly that we were moving, as if keeping the knowledge from them would be a sort of triumph . . .
In any case, the move was sudden. One day, my mother came to get me and my brother from our classes. And then it was goodbye to the two close friends I had there -- we were a group of three, I remember, though their names have long since faded from my memory. One was a red-head, the other a Chinese American kid. Perhaps we had a chance later to say goodbye at one of our houses. I don't remember. I seem to recall their confused faces, the surprise of my sudden departure, the inability to think about what that meant -- would we ever see each other again? (No.) But perhaps I am confusing this sudden departure with an earlier one -- when I know for sure that my mother did come to kindergarten during class to get me and my brother. And just like that, she had us placed into the first grade. No forewarning. Perhaps no explanation, even, because I sure don't remember why. Just the appearance, suddenly, of mommy at school. And off we went.
The relocation to the city where I spent the rest of my non-adult life: Though I was a loud, rambunctious kid, even in school first grade and for the first part of second grade -- I know I had to stay after school a few times for talking in class, I remember giggling with my friends in class a lot, even throwing paper at classmates while the teacher's back was turned -- I suddenly shut up. I became "the quiet kid" at our new school. My brother seemed much more adjusted. He played with kids during recess. I stood against the side of the building. So quiet I was that one girl -- Melissa, as she later reminisced during our high school graduation -- would come up to me offering candy if I would say something. And I would sheepishly say, "something," eat the candy, and smile. And I think it was people like her who helped me stay calm and sane. I remember being sent off to speech therapy class because the school authorities thought I seldom spoke because I had difficulty physically forming words . . .
But I must have recovered fairly quickly because by the end of the year, I had made a very close friend. Quincy and I were best friends, and I remember hanging out with him a lot through the third grade. He was the first person to invite me to his house in this new city. It must have helped that he was also of Chinese birth, though his family spoke Cantonese and came from the Canton region of China rather than Taiwan. And I have memories of playing games with him, hanging out, going to movies, and all that. I do remember, however, a sense of jealousy and a sort of fear when he would also be nice to my twin brother. I wanted him all to myself, to be his best friend. And we were, but that fear that he would leave me for someone else was there. Maybe this is all in hindsight, but I also knew that he was amazingly devoted to me, that we were in fact best friends. We were closer than anyone else at our school. But then he left. He went off to private school in the fourth grade. We kept in touch for awhile. I saw him a few times a year for the next year or two. But then we lost touch. In the eighth grade, I remember tracking him down by phone in a moment of nostalgia. He was off in boarding school. We spoke briefly. We had nothing to say to each other any more.
When I reached middle school -- grades 6 through 8 -- I was a little more entrenched in the city, meaning I knew most of the kids around and they knew me. But I had not made any other close friends since Quincy. In science class in the 7th grade, I met Greg. We became close friends. Though we didn't hang out with each other outside of school, we were fairly inseparable in school. We would be mischievous during class, carrying on a written conversation while the teacher droned on in front of the class. We developed elaborate conversation games, da fish et de bug et di bacteria. And then Greg left. His family moved to Texas after the 7th grade. And we never exchanged contact information, never kept in touch.
So for whatever reasons, I have this immense fear of loss, of being left, of betrayal. It perhaps started with my family's move in 1985. There, I must have felt inordinate guilt for leaving suddenly, for leaving my close friends without a trace. But did I even know what was going on? Could I have known enough to counter my parents' insistence on silence? And then the leavings of my two best friends from school. Is it because of me? . . .
>> 5:58 AM
Monday, April 23, 2001
Today, however, there was a nice discussion on all of these issues. It was a nice way to end the semester, I guess, except I just wish these intelligent people could have applied their own realizations to their practice. Admittedly, their acknowledged their shortcomings in these respects. But that's just not enough . . .
There are a few points that the class raised that I want to remember here. (1) There is generally a striving towards complete mastery of material -- to present arguments that are foolproof for all time -- and therefore an inability to see the value of the always-incomplete nature of progress. (2) Inability of academics in the humanitities to think and work collaboratively due at least in part to institutional structures (tenure requirements, "star" system of publishing, etc.). (3) There needs to me a greater move towards acknowleding not just what claims writers make in a articles, but also the ethical stakes of their arguments. In other words, academics need to be more open to what other "like-minded" people write, engaging their concerns even if their conclusions are somewhat shortsighted because of things they fail to take into account or things they misread. (4) The processes of going through graduate school and working in the professions of literature and cultural studies seem to acculturate academics to a cynical deconstructivist attitude towards critique without the enabling sense of deconstructivist critique that builds on arguments and assumptions.
There are some more details that I've already forgotten. While I was glad to hear that the people in the class realized what they were doing in using their critical analyses to tear apart arguments rather than in acknowledging limitations of arguments while affirming the positive work they DO do, I thought it was perhaps hypocritical in the sense that they rarely exhibited such concerns in the actual seminar.
. . .
On a somber note, I turned in my lesson plans for the major project of my rhetorical theory and practice class. I didn't have the full 30 lesson plans I needed. I just couldn't write them. I don't know how to teach composition. Argh! I agonized over them for so long, too. True, I should've started them a month ago, but I did spend all of last week in a paralysis about them. Grrrr . . .
>> 5:47 PM
Saturday, April 21, 2001[Selmasongs].
There's a video copy of a movie Björk is in that I keep seeing in the video store. The movie is called [Juniper Tree]. It's from 1987 and probably wouldn't be available here except Björk can hold her own as a Big Name. The movie sounds like it's right up my alley, though -- witchcraft and fairy tales. I need to watch it sometime this summer.
>> 7:43 PM
Friday, April 20, 2001["25 or so strangers/acquaintances"]. I actually have this strange approach to public speaking -- the more volatile or taboo the subject, the easier it seems for me to face an audience. I think that putting people slightly at unease helps me out. Maybe I feel that they are more nervous than I am. Of course, I don't have a lot of experience with this particular tactic, but I did give my [Kaplan] teaching-auditions lesson on how to put on a condom (cucumber included). The people in the room were visibly giggly. I think it eased the tension of the audition process. But it is kind of odd that I am more comfortable presenting something silly or outrageous and possibly touchy in a controversial kind of way, than something more mundane (perhaps because of its seriousness).
Anyways, halo33's more recent post reminded me of the other because he writes about [his difficulty with verbal communication]. And that's exactly how I feel. I spend too much time worrying about what I'm going to say. And that contributes to my lacking presence in group conversations because those conversations move on to different topics or just further along in the discussions while I'm trying to formulate my thought. I just need to start blurting out my thoughts. Or I need to learn how to change the pacing of conversations to suit my needs. :)
>> 12:57 AM
Thursday, April 19, 2001[paper] (submitted also as the writing sample for my graduate school application) on the use of introductions, particular in Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. Revisiting this paper, I've come again to think about this odd tension between author and critic, as if the two must be separate entities, also at war with each other. And the game -- interpretation. I wish I could understand what it is I am doing in literary studies, what others are doing, why there is a battle over whether or not what we do is interpretation of literature, what that means, etc.
>> 1:49 PM
Listen, see, think.
Having listened to the names of (or seen the faces of) those who are gone, listen to those who are still here. And speak for those who cannot speak, or who are afraid to speak, or who have ceased to speak because they have come to believe that nobody will listen. And speak in unison with those who are speaking, but whose voices will not be heard unless they are joined by yours and mine and a million more.
My friend has written another moving call to/for humanity in [Yom HaShoah and Your Voice]. Remember, memorialize, commemorate -- but more than that, speak out, help, assist those in need.
>> 1:06 PM
And maybe that message has stuck with me in terms of reading books. I'm one of these people who has a hard time skimming books or just reading the "important" bits -- even when I know I don't have time to pore over every word. Is this a sort of work ethic? Hmmm . . .
And I remember another of these television spots -- from the same time and probably produced by the same people. Images of Chinese American kids playing. And their smiling announcements: "I'm proud to be Chinese-American." I guess it was part of the movement to encourage ethnic and racial pride, an embrace of heritage rather than forcing non-white Americans to "assimilate" into the fiction of a homogenous American community.
>> 12:40 PM
Wednesday, April 18, 2001[The Forsaken].
>> 8:07 AM
Although I don't think the sudden cold completely caused my headache yesterday, I'm sure it had something to do with it. I had THE WORST headache yesterday. It was like nothing I've ever experienced in my life. My head hurt so much I was on the verge of throwing up and or crying much of the time. My eyes teared periodically and I couldn't keep my eyes open very easily. The worst part of the ordeal was that I could've ended my suffering relatively easily, but I attributed the headache to the wrong things (though they too probably made contributions to the large-scale pain I experienced). For most of the day I thought I just needed a nap. Over the last couple of nights I had only gotten a total of a handful of hours of sleep due to various complications in my life. In any case, Tuesday morning rolled around with me seriously needing more sleep and seriously needing to do a lot of work for my classes. Tuesday was to be GET WORK DONE day. So I planned to stay on campus after my morning class. But then this headache descended on me both suddenly and gradually. It was mild at first. I thought I just needed some food and sleep. I ate. No good. The pain continued to build. I went to my carrel in the library to nap. But the pain was so bad I couldn't fall asleep. And that's always a sign of extreme distress when I can't fall asleep. So finally delirious with pain, I made it to J's apartment where J&J were discussing a paper. I took some pain killers and headed to the bed. I writhed in pain for about an hour, but managed to nap for another. But when I woke up, the pain really had not subsided much. And it was only then that I realized -- sinus headache. I had not thought that congestion was the problem because my lower sinuses were relatively happy, especially in comparison to Monday's fiasco of allergy symptoms. So I took some decongestants and within the hour, so much more relief. I really really really hate it when I misdiagnose my illnesses. I could've been OK early in the afternoon and gotten some work (or at least productive napping) done. Of course, by the time I felt fine, I needed to grab dinner and then settle in to the first NEW [Buffy] in over a month (and Angel afterwards as a courtesy to Buffy and Joss Whedon).
Last night I got eight hours of sleep. I feel so much better today. It's amazing what sleep can do for a body. I feel light, rested, ready. Bring it on.
>> 6:43 AM
Tuesday, April 17, 2001[Diary] series: You think you know, but you really don't. It's been bouncing around my head a bit lately, though I've only seen the one episode on [Christina Aguilera].
It's a series that follows a celebrity figure around for a few days, allowing her to talk about what goes on in her day-to-day life "as stuff happens." It's funny to me how that sort of intimacy -- like looking at someone's diary -- supposedly reveals so much more about the person or even "the truth." But in reality, it's just another presentation of a persona, albeit mediated in a different way than other sorts of media presentations. It has its own particular revelations, true -- the whole confessionals thing and speaking to the camera work ostensibly as a way of legitimating and justifying the celebrity's point of view.
But after watching one of these episodes, how much more do you really know about the celebrity? Maybe she's dispelled some gossip. Clarified others. But what does it mean to "know" a person? What facts or aspects of understanding position you as one who "knows" this celebrity?
And in related news, do you know me through my journal? I just wonder, especially given the amount of stuff I can't write about here (lack of time and space, inability to articulate experiences, as well as simply lack of desire to share certain things). Makes me think of some literary works that explore these ideas of documenting life as it happens, realizing pretty quickly that a complete capture of one's life and times is not possible in a straightforward and total narrative sense. (Laurence Sterne's The Life and Times of Tristram Shandy and Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past spring to mind.) But is it necessary to know all the details of my daily life to know me? Or is knowing someone being able to interpret her actions in a logical, coherent manner? Or is being able to predict what that person will do or say in a given situation? You think you know, but you really don't.
>> 12:08 AM
Monday, April 16, 2001
Subject: Re: doh
yeah i really do need to go to the dentist. but i know i'll end up needing a root canal for sure. lucky you only need some fillings.
i'm so discombobulated from allergies. i was sneezing non-stop every once in awhile today. and my eyes got so itchy and dried out i thought my eyeballs would start cracking. grrr!!!!!
>> 11:58 PM
Sunday, April 15, 2001
Subject: Re: Your recent postings
:( I guess this past week just hasn't been working out very well for me. I'm not sure why. There hasn't been any significant event to depress me -- though Thursday was difficult and a confluence of small annoyances worked its black magic on my self-esteem/ability to go on through my day. In part I guess I'm just thinking some about the future, and that always eventually leads me to this great big question mark: what am I doing?
Re: my sentence: Why do you hate me? Well, "me" would be me. "You" specifically would be J (the one I say it to often), but I think it also refers generally to "you" meaning everyone, the world out there. And I really do feel often like its me against the world. And I don't know why. Probably has something to do with feeling that I am facing a totally *new* world (i.e. one not imagined by me in the past).
You should not feel bad about not asking me what I want to do with my life. In fact, I think we have e-mailed each other about these questions many times before. But each time I come to some answers, they inevitably fade back into the background of my day-to-day existence. And then that day-to-day brings back doubts and uneasiness, working relentlessly on my nerves like rain water on large rock formations. And it's hard to think about or deal with because it all seems so invisible, so hard to pin down -- these questions about what I want to do with my life, what I am doing with my life, whether or not any of it is important or worthwhile. After all, shouldn't I know what I am doing, why I'm doing it, etc.? (I have to pretend I know . . . )
My problem generally seems to be that, years ago, I didn't imagine what my life would be like in the future. I knew some things didn't seem "right" for me, but I also couldn't imagine other possibilities. When I came to self-identify as a gay man, I still couldn't imagine a relationship outside a heterosexual marriage. I haven't really thought about how that inability to think outside the given knowledge has affected me. And it's still difficult to think my relationship with J -- what it looks like, what it is, what it could be. I'm just suffering from an inability to think, imagine, see. It's like a kind of mental paralysis. And I suspect it has something to do with how my mind clamps down, too, when I do my academic work sometimes.
I wish I could envision my future. Not even, as you say, what it will be, but what it COULD be. And I think that's partially why I'm so drawn to fiction and particular writers who imagine such palpable realities and alternatives (of all sorts -- relating to relationships, careers, etc.).
Thank you so much for responding, reading, caring. I wish I knew how to help myself out of this confusion and sadness. But I guess this writing, reading -- talking, even ! -- will figure centrally in my figuring out what I'm doing and why. It's why I want to be in school now, in English especially. The possibilities imagined in various literatures -- they seem to offer me a way of thinking out of what I've come to accept as what my life should be.
>> 8:57 PM
I feel so alone. I feel so alone because I am frightened. I am frightened because my reality seems so tenuous. This life I have, this world I live in, were entirely unimagined just a short three or four years ago. The gay relationship. The academic life. The South. How did I get here from the certainty that was my life through high school and into the beginning of my college years? How did I stray from the marriage to a Taiwanese woman, a family; the medical career; the San Francisco Bay Area? And though I know I always knew those things weren't right for me, weren't what I sought, they at least were prescribed, described, layed out before me as a path in life. And now I find myself wandering, taking that road not taken. But it isn't simply a path of celebration, of escape, liberation, freedom, individuality. It's a way filled with doubt, fear, instability. I feel my world almost literally on the verge of collapse. When I sleep sometimes I dream the very physical reality around me becoming hole-y -- science fiction shows lending visual weight with images of pockets of VOID appearing as reality crumbles. Holes of darkness, of nothingness. But on another level, the physical reality around me also crumbles or seems fragile. When will "reality" -- the life I thought I would lead until recently -- shatter this illusion of what I've created? When will I realize that what I'm doing is just a game, just a diversion? Or (more) pessimistically, when will the fiction of my freedom and happiness fall apart?
How to forestall these events? How to allay these fears? I live in constant paranoia that what I've chosen to do with my life is an utter failure. I fear that I am a disaster, a nothing. I think my relationship with J is all wrong sometimes. But why? Because I can't imagine us living together happily -- not past the thrill of initial courtship, the beginnings of a life together. I can't imagine a sustained relationship because I have no frame of reference for what our lives will (or should?) look like. And I'm afraid of the unknown. I know that I want to push these fears aside. I know that I shouldn't care about whether or not I'm doing these things "right." But not having a picture in my mind of what it means for us to be together happily is utterly frightening at times. I don't have a picture of marriage to look forward to -- and however problematic I find the concept of marriage, it still would provide me with a certain sanction on life, an immense amount of validation. And so I read into our lives, J's actions, his presence -- an incredible amount of doubt. The constant refrain: Why do you hate me?
And all of these fears reinforced by our distance in public, our constant vigilance about appearing safely fraternal rather than romantic. Like a barrier erected forcefully between our bodies, our words, our actions, our looks -- the very way we interact with each other. And for what? Exactly so that we won't appear to be who we are. And though such "acting" is easily separable from my feelings in particular instances, the day-to-day reality of its repetition slowly works its way into my psyche, casting shadows and creating murkiness in my already hazy, unclear mind.
>> 7:21 AM
Saturday, April 14, 2001
Even a reminder of [this] doesn't make me smile.
And [this] article on cartoons / humor skits mocking Chinese people only makes me sadder. Of course, it's hard to take a stand against this kind of thing. To say that these cartoons are racially discriminatory seems to many people simply "p.c." talk or general too-sensitiveness. And it's tricky saying that these images / cartoons / skits in some ways incite discrimination or even violence against Asian Americans because there isn't a direct correlation between representation and action. But there is a complicated relationship between representation, action, and beliefs. These images, etc., wouldn't be funny to people at all if there weren't some commonly-held feelings of derision or distaste for the mocked.
Anyways, it's all craziness to me. And to ignore the very real emotions, the very real hurt, that some people feel facing these overtly derisive portrayals, indicates remarkable indifference to me. To suggest that it's all only in jest, that we Asian Americans shouldn't be upset by it, is radically to ignore the force of the representations. And it's entirely close-minded (or willful ignorance/idealism) to think that there isn't something else, a greater weight, to these representations than mere humor.
>> 10:18 PM
Subject: lady marmalade?
What's this? Who's this song by? Not my Christina Aguilera? Oh wait -- let me go check her [website] . . . . YIKES!!! Why am I always the last to find out these things??? Cool. Now I have to watch out for this video. :)
Ok . . . a little disturbing. I just watched the video on realplayer (very jerky video, etc.). But Christina's BIG hair! And all that mascara!!!! And the hosiery!!! OH MY GOD!!
But re: your wood sculptures. Maybe you should hand-sand them? :) I don't know how big your big sculpture is, though.
Ok. Back to watch that video again.
>> 12:14 PM
Friday, April 13, 2001
tumbling forward dreams
of chocolate somethings so
delicious and impossible --
the taste --
transfixed by the window
whole vibrant sky and cotton swaths dragged
slowly across as birds trilling
a soundtrack of laziness (though not seen
not the nest the bird above
a storefront earlier).
panes of glass in rectangles
the opened windows creating
new possibilities for the relation
between here and
humming sudden drops and splashes of
water from the cooling unit
upstairs emptying de-humidifying
the punctuated voices of girls
passing by close too
close and eyes open.
shimmering the rustle barely
audible but yellows simmering
as a soft boil
and the screen creating more
texture to the colors
blinds Venetian dividing systematically
my view of the world
>> 4:13 PM
Subject: Re: Fwd: Foreign Policy
That's tickle-ish. Tho I think playing on the foreignness and ["illegibility"] of Chinese characters is always a little strange . . . But this whole controversy over apologies -- words -- is kinda of crazy in itself because it all came down to saying something or not. And what if someone just said the expected words -- I'm sorry -- but didn't mean it? Bush, evidently, didn't really mean the apology he gave. After the return of the soldiers, he immediately went back to "tough" words and negotiations. What's with all of his posturing? He comes across as a kid who can play tough because he's friends with the school bully.
Anyways . . . How've you been? Are you teaching for Kaplan yet? Still in training?
>> 12:42 PM
Thursday, April 12, 2001[self]
Subject: a moment of calm
I don't know how much this sort-of-epistolary style is working for me. I'm finding that what I want to write down on this page often is stuff I don't really want to address directly to someone. So I've been finding myself these last few days writing e-mails to friends about things I would generally not bother e-mailing anyone about. In effect, I've been sending diluted blog-entries to people via e-mail.
I guess I just need something completely self-indulgent. Maybe my foul mood these past couple of days has its roots in this sort-of-stifling of my usual personal-thoughts-rambling? How depressing a thought . . . in some senses. Am I really so self-centered, so needy of this space to rant to a faceless public? Am I really that unable to direct my thoughts, ideas, words to other people? Or maybe that's a little too harsh on myself. I do need a place to write that is not quite private and not quite public. I need a place to negotiate difficulties with interfacing with social reality.
That being said, I do feel like I've lost the knack of e-mail communication. I used to be a madly-devoted e-mail communicator. I made friends around the country over e-mail. I used to hover over the computer, waiting eagerly for new, substantial (i.e. not junk mail or listserv announcements of events) e-mail. But now, though I sometimes click obsessively on the "check mail" button of my e-mail program, I only half-heartedly expect a substantial message. I know I hardly send out anything worth a reply. And I wonder -- what was it that I used to do?
I had thought I was more forthcoming about my day-to-day actions. And maybe I was. But over these last few days, I've realized again how uneventful (except today's/yesterday's awfulness) my life is. So what did I e-mail people about? I guess maybe I must have hit upon something of interest to myself and my pen pals . . . a topic? stories from the past? I can't remember, for the life of me. It's as if that person was someone else, someone able to make friends, able to converse (albeit through the written word) -- and now I am tongue-tied, finger-flumoxed, a boring flash in the pan. (And no, this is not quite a pity-seeking post, though sympathy and support I always welcome.)
But I should to bed go now. At least there is no need to go to campus tomorrow -- a university holiday. No classes, no people. No computer lab staffing hours, no feeling impotent in trying to help others with their computer problems.
I'll stick with this e-mail format for now, allowing myself these letter-to-self interludes if need be . . .
>> 10:48 PM
an even worse day.
i got a speeding ticket about a block away from our apartment. :( and i wasn't even going to come to campus today because i only had one class this morning and the professor is out of town. but then i decided i might as well come so i can get my day started and work in the library. but instead, i get a speeding ticket. put me in an even more foul mood than i've been in. and blogger is down, so i can't even vent on-line like i usually do when things go wrong. and of course the police officer took a long time to write up the citation, chatting with this guy who was standing on the sidewalk with a walkie-talkie. what was up with that? it took him OVER TEN MINUTES to fill out the stupid form. AND THEN HE DIDN'T EVEN give me the information i needed to settle the matter without appearing in court. the stupid form has no information about how much i owe, where to send payments, whom to call for information, or ANYTHING. so of course that means i have to go hunt down some information in the damned bureaucratic mess of the durham circuit court system.
but at least i got to pick up mei-mei berssenbrugge's collection of poetry: four year old girl. the first poem is amazing. it's called "irises" and part one goes:
In a world which transcends the confines of her transient being, she can reach / and bring existences within the compass of her life, without annulling / their transcendence. These invisible entities infuse the visible with femininity, / showing nonlocation by the adjectival status of her mind. You place sixteen girls / in a meadow and always fill it. They're everyone, the world, implicit promise. / Her image of you, a transparency on her desire, is like a contact print of irises on film. / Their shallow space implies expansion within it of irises and shadows against a blue wall. / So, she proposes a soul of fine-grained material, in order to hold this promise, / like ghosts above a pond taking on heat, blurring its register over itself. Remembering / an insect would be, as if you looked into a shallow box of insects and their shadows. / If I dream I see light on a new bud in the woods, this is feeling used as thought, beautiful because of my attempt to contain it.
and then i was in the bookstore putting some money on my ID card to make photocopies. i ended up buying some books including jose esteban munoz's DISIDENTIFICATIONS. there is a picture of a man in drag on the cover, and the woman at the checkout counter proceeded to talk about how nasty the picture was, how disgusting the other pictures in the book were (she flipped through the pages), told her friend nearby about a book she found in the bookstore one day with a picture of a gay man fisting and how disgusting that was, what kind of crazy shit people publish these days . . .
it made me think about how queerness is still very much anathema to many people. and i'm beginning to feel more like returning to the closet. i didn't say anything to the woman -- what could i say? -- but i just wanted her to stop talking. and it's not like i go around in drag or anything, but then i stopped myself, thinking, "well, just because i'm gay doesn't mean i dress up in women's clothing," is hardly an adequate response to homophobic attacks on drag queens and homosexual acts. it's in fact the kind of response that conservative gays often give -- we're just like straight people, only gay -- that i usually hate. but i was standing there feeling defensive, wanting to say, "i'm not like that stop being so hateful towards gay people," but didn't end up saying anything. only silence. just like always. at least this time i didn't smile conspiratorially, though how could i since i was buying the book?
and now i'm hungry and i wish i had something sweet to eat to take away this bitterness in my mouth / day, but i hardly want to venture out into the open, to face people and all that crap. i'll probably spend my day holed up in my carrel. i wish i could cover up the window on the door so nobody can see me inside.
. . .
Date: Thu, 12 Apr 2001 2:47:27 pm
Subject: Re: :(
she wasn't really mouthing off to me about it, at least not overtly. she wasn't ever saying anything directly to me. she was sort of just talking to herself and to her friend about how nasty gay people are. she never called me names or anything. i don't know what's worse -- this sort of passive aggressiveness, or outright name-calling. of course, how would she know i am gay except by association with this book?
just to make this day worse, my eye is red/swollen from all the damn pollen in the air -- and pollen-laden stems falling off the damned trees onto my head and into my eyes. and then the lens of my glasses popped out while i was trying to get the pollen off my eyelashes and the lens of my glasses. at least the screw didn't disappear this time and i was able to piece everything back together.
what'll happen next?
>> 5:12 PM
Subject: in the mood for love
so i saw [in the mood for love] yesterday. it was good. not as good as happy together, though. it did remind me a lot of happy together -- the music, the mood, the visual signature, even the scenes in the cabs.
i liked the relationship that develops between cheung and leung's characters. it's so cool how much you get from their interactions. and i like their "rehearsals" of situations. it creates layers and repetitions (like wallpaper?). either of them would be really cool neighbors to have. :)
so you have to tell me more about your wallpaper painting now that i've seen the movie!
>> 3:08 PM
Wednesday, April 11, 2001
Subject: [Re: (The voiceless rage of the spider)]
Classes are cool!
So I totally have been forgetting to tell you about this DO YOU AGREE WITH MARTY thing. Starting last week, this cryptic message, "Do you agree with Marty?" started appearing all over campus -- chalked on the ground, written on professionally-printed banners, painted on free-standing ad-boards, typed on flyers, and written on classroom chalkboards and dry-erase boards. Everywhere: DO YOU AGREE WITH MARTY?
So then on Monday of this week, a large number of students appeared sporting these bright orange t-shirts saying, "I agree with Marty." And though I never had an encounter with one of these people directly, they apparently regaled anyone who asked them about Marty with stories of Marty's salvation, his closeness to God, etc.
(See an editorial notebook column in the campus paper on the whole thing:
In any case, it's kind of weird. Because their campaign to sneak into the consciousness of the campus was so successful. They must've had some professional advertising advice or something. Today I inadvertently wore a bright orange t-shirt and everyone was like, "I thought you were agreeing with Marty." EEP!
>> 12:41 PM
having a sad bad day. want to go home. :(
>> 9:19 AM
Are you serious??? TWO root canals and you're actually happier to be going to the dentist than to work? That's messed up. I'm actually afraid to go to the dentist, too, because I'm sure I'm going to need a few root canals. If I ignore it, will it go away?
>> 7:29 AM
Tuesday, April 10, 2001
Too busy playing with bull testicle goop to answer my questions? Ah well, such is the price I pay for having a scientist-friend. :)
Anyways, I've been meaning to tell you that I am going to title my as-yet-unwritten paper for my class on Milton under your influence: "Milton's Poet as Pedagogue." Mmm...pedagogue. [Ichabod Crane] was a ________. Peda. Gogue. Ped. A. Gog. Ue. Pe. Da. Go. Gue.
>> 2:47 PM
Monday, April 09, 2001
Yeah so just got back an hour ago from my Duke class. I always feel so frustrated afterwards. I think the people in the class are very smart and can articulate their theoreteical positions really well, but they are also very pretentious much of the time. Help!
Today they were being very condemnatory towards an article we read, picking it apart and saying that the writer wasn't clear, didn't do what he said he was doing, cited people who weren't doing the work he said they were. But I thought the piece was actually very interesting and presented some provocative material for black queer studies, American studies, transnational studies, etc.
I tried to get one particular student to clarify her rants against one of the people this guy cited. She didn't really have a clear reason for saying this cited person's work was inadequate for what the article's writer was doing. She apparently just didn't like the person's (previous) work and clearly hadn't read the piece the writer cited.
Argh! So anyways I just needed to rant to you, even though you have no idea what I'm talking about because I'm being so general. But what do you think I should do? How do I deal with these people who seem to have very arbitrary allegiances to particular theorists and writers, who often refuse to give other people credit? I wish I knew more of this stuff so I could cite counter-evidence to their wildly general claims. Or maybe I should just start citing my own wild claims.
>> 6:42 PM
Sunday, April 08, 2001
Just thought you might be interested in this incredible site: [http://www.fish.com/~hale/index.html].
It's someone's personal site; she engages a whole host of complicated issues with remarkable clarity and resolve. Plus, I like that she is a scientist without being the kind of racist, close-minded, ultra-"objectivist" that many scientists seem to be.
>> 3:43 PM
Subject: hey c
I like the [new design].
It's great that you're not totally traumatized by people finding out you're gay. But I've been thinking about the whole "coming out" thing and how people who insist that everyone just come out really are willfully ignoring how difficult it is to deal with what HAPPENS after you come out, like people's reactions. And in some senses, as others say, coming out is never a one-time deal, but a continual process (new people you meet, for example) and a continual re-assertion with those who just refuse to believe you're gay. I can understand why some people want to de-emphasize the negative consequences of coming out, but in some ways it makes the discussion of what happens after you SAY the words harder. And that's what we need to do more. We need to talk about the support you will have from friends and family as well as the kinds of alienation coming out produces.
>> 1:24 PM
Subject: Re: random information
I don't know what to think of the China thing. Frankly, I haven't been paying attention to the news, so I don't really know what's going on. It does seem clear that there's a whole lot of posturing and assertions of dominance in the whole debacle, though.
Did you get the invitation to the CC reunion? Are you going? I'm not able to go, obviously. Would be nice to be back in New Haven, etc.
>> 1:10 PM
Subject: Re: panda!
Yup, I liked the picture. I didn't actually read the [article]. OOOps.
My paper is not doing anything. I still have to read Dictee. Ummm. Yah. B was helpful, though. He told me some stuff about the film world Cha was a part of. (Look! J is killing a bug right now. Thank god he isn't afraid to do that. I hate bugs and have a hard time getting rid of them.)
Yeah, that conference at Brown sure looks abstruse.
You did tell me about the wallpaper painting. Are you coo-coo because you're not able to do what you want or just because you're so obsessed with working on it that you can't do anything else? I want to see it!
>> 12:50 PM
I didn't realize you took at trip to Italy -- and with T??? Was this work-related? Or a real vacation? Anyways, sounded like a beautiful time. I wasn't too thrilled with the heat and humidity of Italy (though it was summer when I was there), but it did have its breathtaking views.
One of these days, you should take a hop down from DC to NC instead of going home for a weekend. You know, it's a REALLY short flight. :) (Though you might want to wait until the semester is over at this point.)
So exciting that you're interested in someone at work! It does seem very difficult to meet people once you're out of school. Much of the work world just doesn't seem very conducive to socializing and even encountering people your age. Keep me posted on how you two get along. :) You know I'm always willing to give advice. Heh.
I don't know the Corrs song "Breathless" off the top of my head, but I'm sure I've heard it before since it's apparently a very popular / often-played-on-the-radio song. I'll keep my ears open for it, though. Is there any particular reason why you like it? Does it have special connections with E, possibly? :)
I am still trying to figure out what I'm doing in school. There are just so many questions to figure out. It's difficult, too, because I feel often that I'm just not understanding a lot of what's going on -- what we read, what people talk about, what the academic world finds important. We'll see how it all turns out, though.
I don't know if I mentioned to you, but I am planning on finishing my master's in December. I'll be taking the spring semester off -- at least -- to help J move to St. Louis, MO. He'll be starting a teaching job at Washington University in Jan.
I'll be taking a class this summer (the session ends early July) and working on my thesis so I can finish up my master's.
>> 12:34 PM
Friday, April 06, 2001
I'll have to start thinking about when I can go up to visit you and people in the Northeast sometime soon.
I am doing fine overall despite the scary 2nd grade flashback in my weblog.
I think it's great you've developed friendships with some of your former TAs. I actually have been thinking a bit lately about the rigid age-stratifications of the worlds/situations I've grown up in. I think it's safe to say most people grow up making friendships with people who are within a year or two of their age (school grades help make those contacts easier). But more than that, I wish I had more friends who are both significantly older and younger. It's kind of trite, but age does offer different perspectives. And while I know there are advantages to having friends your age -- going through age-related developments at the same time, etc. (but even those things are often tied to age when they needn't be, like taking ballroom dance classes only after you're at least college-aged) -- I think there are many more advantages to knowing people who have different expectations in life, different obstacles.
Whoops. Well, digression.
I'm going to a pre-Seder Seder tonight. Will you be going home for the Seder dinner?
>> 4:45 PM
I know you go to an arts high school, but do you have a lot of contact with professional artists? And I'm not talking about craftspeople or people working for design firms particularly (though they are artists in a sense as well and I'm not denigrating their work). Do you know anyone who's an artist in the sense of someone who lives for her/his work, who really believes that what she/he does is important as expression, as beauty, as statement, as life? I know that's kind of abstract. But I'm really curious about meeting people who consider themselves to be artists on a grand scale. People who do art because it makes them whole, makes them a part of this world.
Because I agree with you that art is not just about making "realistic" images. Maybe that's a possible asepct of artistic "ability" -- but "ability" cannot be limited to being able to reproduce images in photograph-like imitation. And there's something to the "slightly-off-beat perspective" you're searching for as a part of artistic talent. A new perspective, but also a way to convey that new perspective to your viewer.
If I ever get around to writing "creatively" (as in not this analytical stuff I'm writing for my classes -- although someday in class I want to trouble that distinction between essay-criticism and creative writing), I would love to share my work with you as you've shared yours on your web site. Next spring, when I am taking a break from my coursework, maybe I will have a chance to return to this other aspect of my writing...
>> 4:21 PM
>> 3:53 PM
And maybe I'll be able to think more about communication through writing, the process of expressing ideas in words to other persons.
(It's a strange experience reading past entries . . . )
In any case, I was thinking I'd start addressing my blog entries to specific people I know (and don't know, such as celebrities, the admired-from-afar). Would I write about different topics? Would I present the ideas differently? How would that change how others read the entries? (What is the qualitative difference between reading a "private" journal and reading "private" correspondence?) And what if I only [blogged] things that were in fact also e-mails to various people? (My blog becomes an archive of sent e-mails?) As you can see, my head is only about the questions these days. Can't seem to answer anything, even to myself.
>> 3:45 PM
>> 8:02 AM
Thursday, April 05, 2001[QNC's] "Day of Silence" in the [campus paper] today. The reporter took the time to explain the event and its purpose quite well. I think it's fascinating, though, that the second to last paragraph, a quote from a passerby, reads: " 'I thought the screaming was just some girl telling her friends she got engaged,' said freshman Chris Fazen." Just goes to show how people do misread silence and extra-linguistic expressions, and in many instances, misread it along the lines of heterosexual normativity. I'm not saying the quote is out of place in this article, but it is the perfect indication of exactly the sort of silences about the existence of LGBT people and heterosexism that the "Day of Silence" was meant to interrogate and expose. And I'm glad that the reporter was thoughtful enough to include the quote, though perhaps a comment on what the normative force of such assumptions in the quote would have been nice. (Of course, that would go against journalism's "code of objectivity.")
>> 10:19 AM
Wednesday, April 04, 2001[before], my position up in my carrel makes for a sort of surreal viewing experience of the world below. I was watching the corner today, thinking from a distance how strange people look walking, watching out for cars, crossing streets, stepping quickly out of the path of oncoming traffic. And the cars and SUVs menacingly swooping down the street, stopping at the red lights, passing through the green. But the particular interaction of the pedestrians and the vehicles -- fascinating. The give-and-take, tentative stepping out into the street, sometimes a step back onto the sidewalk. Cars slowing down, speeding up, swerving slightly to give a wider berth to crossing pedestrians. And all of this without verbal communication . . .
>> 9:23 PM
Today!!! is the National day of silence!!!
Here is a statement for the day:--- Silence can be powerful:
"Please understand my reasons for not speaking today. I support lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights. People who are silent today believe that laws and attitudes should be inclusive of people of all sexual orientations. The Day of Silence is to draw attention to those who have been silenced by hatred, oppression, and prejudice. Think about the voices you are not hearing. What can you do to end the silence?"
The day of silence starts at 9am and goes to 5pm. We will have a mass scream-in at the pit at 5:00 to end the day / break the silence.
At 1pm, there will be a silent protest in the main quad.
HELP BREAK THE SILENCE in the curriculum... we're organizing a walk-out -- show that silence is not okay on an institutional level! --10 min before the end of each class, stand up and walk out!!! Wear all black. The [DTH] is aware of this mass mobilization, and will be including the walkout in the National Day of Silence coverage...Help create institutional change!!!
Getting people to think about silence, the unsaid, invisible forces, assumptions, etc. is very important. And I'm always glad when people take on this task.
>> 7:27 AM
Tuesday, April 03, 2001
I don't remember the feelings of fear or nervousness in giving that presentation, but I do remember that I was deathly afraid, sweaty, shaky.
. . .
I participated in a student conference today. Wasn't thrilled about what I had cobbled together for a paper (too many ideas I wanted to address), but made it through the presentation OK. Voluntarily putting myself in front of people like that really is a first for me. Practice, they say. Practice and experience.
There were some interesting responses to my presentation, though. One I'm still spinning around in my head is Dr. Curtain's comment about the importance of the pleasures of literary studies in arguing for its continued support in higher education. At first glance, it seems to me that foregrounding the pleasures of reading wouldn't be very effective in combatting utilitarian critiques of English studies (what are the material benefits of studying literature?). But there is something about the pleasures of reading that are very important to what we understand about reading, thinking, coming to understand things.
>> 10:08 PM
Monday, April 02, 2001[article] about [Holcombe Waller]:
"Not to sound too spacey-new-agey, but I do cognizantly work on music because of my sense of how all of us are just constantly trying," he added. "Everyone's trying to find meaning and to do good things, to achieve and enjoy life and feel passionate. That sort of constant search, I'm very aware of that when I'm writing music and when I'm performing."
I try to remind myself that there is something important about finding meaning in life, about doing "good things" -- whatever those may be. But the constant struggle over meaning and good in encounters with other people always leaves me so exhausted. Even with radical, progressive people, something about the way people present their ideas and ideals always seems to limit and prescribe what is right . . . It's hard to maintain and develop a pluralist understanding of social life. I don't think I'm up to the task . . .
>> 7:57 PM
Sunday, April 01, 2001
>> 9:01 PM
>> 10:30 AM
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