Thursday, June 28, 2001[urban ghosts and legends: the cinema of tsai ming-liang]. See y'all on the other side of the weekend.
In the meantime, digest [this] (via [lyd]).
>> 2:19 AM
Wednesday, June 27, 2001
>> 5:22 PM
Tuesday, June 26, 2001
Don't think I mentioned yet I went to see [Nico and Dani ("Krámpack")] Sunday afternoon. I loved the sexual frankness of the movie and its characters, but it still had that really misogynistic edge of conventional male coming-of-age stories. I would've loved to see more about Elena's motivations; she was a cool and confident character. Of course, she came across as a mysterious girl just using a guy for sex (she says, "you wouldn't understand"). And the resolution of the movie suggested that a regression to male bonding, to shooting rabbits instead of "making" it with girls and therefore writing girls out of the picture, was the only fool-proof method of preserving friendships. I don't know. The actor playing the part of Dani was really good, though. And I suppose the movie does capture a sense of sexual confusion in adolescence. I just think that sexual confusion doesn't have to be nearly as destructive as it comes across in many coming-of-age movies. Not being able to articulate one's feelings is difficult, but why does there have to be a correlation between homosexual desire and some sort of violence?
>> 2:05 PM
After the meeting, stopped by [The Skylight Exchange], this veritable hole-in-the-wall establishment off a small street in Chapel Hill. I liked the isolation of the place (there was only one other person reading there). I was feeling a bit stupid for being always so tongue-tied when I go to talk to my advisor. He must think I'm a blubbering idiot.
I wandered around a bit more after leaving The Skylight Exchange because I had to be at a professor's house at 6 pm for a sort-of exam for class. I stopped at a department store to buy some clothes (didn't find anything I liked, another cafe I'd never been to, and a music store (didn't buy anything, though).
Then the exam, which was simply three people sitting around talking about these books we were to have read. The professor did most of the talking, so I just sat back and relaxed. He had lots of cats -- so cute -- and it was all fine except it lasted about three and a half hours. I was feeling headachy by then, I think because I hadn't really had much to eat all day.
Whoops -- gotta get ready for final exam.
>> 5:48 AM
Monday, June 25, 2001
>> 1:33 PM
Sunday, June 24, 2001
I was thinking this morning about the green food coloring and about how my mom must have tried out so many things new to her because she was in a new culture. It's not necessarily that she never used green food coloring before she moved to the U.S., but the idea of food coloring seemed to me an appropriate marker for difference and masking. Food coloring seeps into, mixes with, other stuff to change the color, to make it pretty. It's all a matter of presentation and aesthetics, of making something into something it's not. It all makes me cringe to imagine my mom trying to fit into the suburban life of soccer moms and children's birthday parties. I don't know if that was ever her goal, but just the thought is unsettling. And now I can understand more how and why she and my dad remained largely isolated from the community around us. We did have fleeting contact with some other Taiwanese families in the greater Bay Area, but those were not frequent enough to establish stable sense of community.
I remember how my dad would get upset that we kids were always so shy and quiet around strangers (his friends), as if we ever had the opportunity to become proficient socialites. Added to the lack of experience was his consistent tactic of casting us as not-beautiful, not-smart, not-talented, not-anything, because it would've been the height of boastfulness for him to say otherwise. And while such a manner of (self-)effacement might be completely fine as a self-contained practice, the fact that I had to contend with the knowledge that on television, for instance, the children's parents were always the first to boast about their kids, made me feel that my dad must clearly have thought the worst of me. (And a note for another day: why are some cultural practices seemingly corrosive in their interactions with others?)
>> 8:37 AM
Saturday, June 23, 2001[The Independent Weekly] is one of the local free weekly newspapers. The latest issue has a cover story on gay artists. The cover [photo] is of two rubber duckies kissing (among other things). Smiles!
>> 10:53 PM
>> 10:43 PM
My friend at [Stanfurd] is going to see the pilot episode of Buffy! I am soooo jealous. I wonder if the story is the same as in the series premieres. I have a vague recollection of a description by Joss Whedon somewhere that it isn't. And Willow is definitely not the same. She's played by a non-Alyson Hannigan actor, that is. I want to be in the Bay Area.
>> 7:50 AM
Friday, June 22, 2001
>> 10:47 AM
Thursday, June 21, 2001
I'm just tired. Observing people making harsh judgments and assumptions that seem utterly unwarranted. And I know it's usually not personal, but it still hurts. That general sort of shock that the world is a bitter place. I can't keep believing that the world is a happy and kind place. But if I stop, I know I wouldn't be able to go on. And I don't want to live a life resigned to a belief in the essential or at least unchangeable disregard of people for others.
>> 8:16 PM
>> 10:42 AM
In any case, the day was mostly wasted. And I didn't get in touch with Elizabeth in time about going out to Raleigh early tomorrow morning to see [Patrick] and Nick off on the [Raleigh-DC AIDSRide]. So we're not going. I am so lazy.
>> 12:35 AM
Wednesday, June 20, 2001[Shy-Shy's]. Naughty, naughty.
>> 5:16 PM
The optometrist I went to a few weeks ago sent me a thank you card. How strange.
The bill for my mole surgery finally came in its last incarnation (i.e., with the balance that I need to pay).
>> 3:54 PM
Tuesday, June 19, 2001
>> 2:02 PM
Monday, June 18, 2001
The heat and closed-ness of the rooms. Stifling. I think I really am mildly claustrophobic and people-crowd-phobic. The people didn't really spread out around the available area. They were all gathered (as usual) around the dessert and beverages tables. I sought out the wide open space (under skylights!) under the ceiling fan, a nice breeze in the otherwise stuffy room.
Talked mostly to the other graduate students there. Said hello to a few professors. Chatted briefly with one stranger who seemed to have sought me out as someone she could talk to about Asia (she studied Asian theater). Had lots of champagne. Mmmmm. Bubbly.
But there were also many awkward moments when I sort of stood around by myself. And when I tried to insinuate myself into a conversation -- even one between people I knew -- it never really worked. And I would sulk off to another corner.
Oh, Elizabeth's peach and blackberry cobbler was so good! The crust was amazing and the fruit just oozed with flavor. I think I've discovered where all the extra weight I've gained this year is coming from -- desserts. I never was much of a dessert person, but I've been having a lot of it since I've come down to Durham. And been walking much less.
>> 10:55 PM
Sunday, June 17, 2001
Potluck this evening with three fellow graduate students. I don't think I've eaten dinner alone with Joe all weekend. Hmmm...
It was quite a nice(r) day today. Still very warm -- I think it got up into the 90s -- but so much less humid than it has been. The difference was amazing. And the sky was clear!!! Blue skies!!! Giddy with delight at the sun and the toy. Now to sleep.
>> 10:28 PM
. . .
A friend's going-away party yesterday evening. I wandered aimlessly around the small space of the party, not knowing anyone and definitely not knowing how to talk to strangers. I get so nervous when I try to talk to new people. Very strange. I need to learn how to control my physiological responses, I think. I heat up incredibly quickly and start sweating. The other day, I was talking to some people in my class during the midterm, and my glasses started steaming up. Grrrrr. After that party, to a potluck/movie gathering with the Men of Imani (the local [MCC]). Watched an episode of Queer as Folk. If we got Showtime, I would definitely watch that show. Crazy soap opera, yes, but all the little things that go into how the gay characters relate to each other is fascinating, erotic, and validating. One scene, Brian is upset/sad about his relationship with his son; Justin crawls out of bed to comfort him, playful kisses, killing him with kindness, a strange, unspoken rapport between the two and a sense of depth in their relationship.
>> 2:03 PM
Saturday, June 16, 2001[Palm Pilot]. I'm torn between the cool functions of a digital hand-held organizer / address book / photobook / music player / e-mail / web device and going the way of making paper trails in my life. If I had a Palm, I wouldn't be keeping all sorts of useless scraps of paper documenting events and such (ticket stubs, announcements, fliers, etc.). Hmmm.
>> 2:47 PM
. . .
Glad my sister sent me [this article] about [Kenji Yoshino] and his work in the law with anti-discrimination and sexuality. I've been meaning to read the law reviews he's published on models of anti-discrimination law and cases of discrimination against gays and lesbians. What I like about what I've read about Yoshino's work is his emphasis on moving away from legal protections based solely on essential identity and towards an understanding of behavioral or performative identity. This re-evaluation of how we view differences of culture, sexuality, etc., is particularly effective in moving beyond ideals of assimilation and conforming to societal norms.
>> 1:45 PM
Friday, June 15, 2001
>> 11:19 AM
Thursday, June 14, 2001
. . .
I used to dream about being a recluse, living by myself somewhere away from the currents of social life. I imagined myself a hermit, living in a cabin somewhere in the woods -- the typical American ideal of rugged individualism embodied. But I also found myself craving the anonymity of crowds, of busy city streets and the rush of people's lives that I did not have to engage. I'm thinking about all this again because I've been thrust into a number of new (for me, that is) social situations lately -- parties and such. I've realized I have absolutely no idea how to negotiate greetings, conversations, and especially leavings (how do you make an exit before the party is "over"?). I must admit I still have little desire to become more familiar with these things. I wish I could feel less awkward, though, at least -- a large part of that transformation will involve becoming more comfortable with myself (that pesky self-consciousness). As one of my friends pointed out recently, these social gatherings are largely inescapable, no matter what career you choose -- you must talk to people you don't know. But maybe I can still remain a recluse, cultivate that aura of mystery that has tended to surround me (because I seldom make social appearances or talk -- I know people must sometimes wonder what I think or whether I think).
>> 12:55 PM
>> 9:15 AM
>> 8:47 AM
Tuesday, June 12, 2001[Panasonic RR-XR320]
Although really, I was thinking in the more sane hours of today that I wouldn't really need such a high-tech toy. I'll maybe carry around the microcassette recorder my sister lent me for awhile. I wouldn't be able to manipulate the sounds digitally, though, and I think that would be half the fun.
I wandered around the Circuit City in town today. I've been there maybe one other time. I was lost among all the new gadgets. The Game Boy Color units are so much sleeker and cooler than the old original Game Boy unit my brother and I used to have. The computers on display looked so futuristic with their shiny surfaces and curved edges. And the size of the store itself was simply overwhelming. I don't know whether there has been a boom in amount of inventory the store sells, or if that particular store is just much bigger than the ones I used to visit in California. I know that there didn't used to be a whole half of the store devoted to digital products, though. Digital cameras. Digitial communications ware. DVD players, MP3 players, aisles of CDs and DVDs. Makes my head spin. So much consumer technology available to manipulate images, sounds, information, ideas. There is clearly no turning back to a pre-digital age (though why would one want to escape the digital except for neo-Luddite fears of technology and an insistence on the "real" of Nature? -- there must be something somewhat ironic about a neo-Luddite [presence] on the web, even though their views aren't necessarily anti-all-technology but more precisely anti-technology because of an essential, pure, biological, natural humanity).
>> 3:49 PM
>> 3:34 AM
Monday, June 11, 2001
I laugh now when I think about the one time I auditioned for a student production of a play in college. I had no idea what I was getting into. I didn't really consider what it would mean for me to act. The director asked me to act certain ways, to show emotions as if I were such a person in such a situation. And I was confused. Is this what acting is? Imitating surfaces? Afterwards, I felt incredibly stupid, not having realized what I would have been doing as an actor. I think my audition must have confused the director, too. I "acted" all wrong. Asked to portray someone who had just lost a loved one, I could only think of extreme melodrama, rocking back and forth with arms around knees -- catatonic -- and being the un-dramatic person I am, couldn't bring myself to enact that part. So I paced instead. And I think I ended up pacing for each situation the director asked me to embody.
>> 9:44 AM
Sunday, June 10, 2001
>> 4:06 PM
Friday, June 08, 2001[Christina Aguilera] does has [piercings]. I also wonder why so many people seem to be searching for this information because a handful of hits in my referrer logs every week come from search engine requests for "Christina Aguilera piercings." Ah well.
I want to [meet Christina Aguilera]! Why not me? Why not now? [Coca-Cola] is my drink for the summer.
>> 3:18 PM
Trying to come up with a simple layout for individual faculty information pages. (I'm working on the English department web site.) Can't seem to come up with anything. Surfed the web for some examples, but most departments just have a big page with all faculty listed on it. I'm also dealing with photographs of different sizes (though I could perhaps go through and edit them all to similar sizes and shapes).
Chocolate ice cream is good.
>> 3:04 PM
Catch up day for reading I couldn't do the last two days.
>> 9:51 AM
Thursday, June 07, 2001
I need to engage my senses in different ways. I need to explore hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling. I need to try going around one day blindfolded. What would my world be like? Would I recognize anything?
>> 10:21 AM
Wednesday, June 06, 2001
I still managed to make it to [The Regulator Bookshop] for a reading by Colson Whitehead (from his new novel John Henry Days). I need to go to more readings. I realized (decided) while I was listening to Whitehead read and answer questions that I need to focus more on the actual writing of stories, etc. While I've made a huge step towards realizing my vision of being a writer by keeping this almost-daily log and writing extensively for school, I have shied away from the exercise of creative writing. I'm going to use my paper journals (I have a few blank ones lying in wait) to start recording story ideas I have regularly. I've noticed in the past that when I try to write down story ideas, they either seem ludicrous and not worth pursuing or incredibly hard to describe. And since writing stories is very much in the execution of ideas, it's important that I start practicing how I might convey those stories and ideas.
Partially this re-realization that I need to write things down also came from my talk with the professor today about my paper. I mentioned again my interest in discerning the difference between what a "creative" or "avant-garde" work does and what an analytical or interpretive piece of writing describes it as doing. What is the difference between the meaning and ideas produced by an art object and the explication of those ideas and their production?
Haven't been able to read yet today (because of dilated eyes). Don't know if I'll get to the reading for class for tomorrow. (How am I typing now? Luckily, I don't really rely on being able to see the keyboard or the screen to type. Writing by hand is a little tougher, if I'm trying to stay on the lines of the paper.) Wanted to work more on the English department web site. Might be able to do some work, but since I'm not really able to read the tiny print on the screen without straining my eyes, I probably won't do much.
Oh, so the optometry appointment. The good news is that my myopia has not worsened. I really don't need new prescriptions for my glasses. But my eyes have become stressed and strained. They are having difficulty focusing on objects near-at-hand. Possible remedies -- bifocals (eep!), wearing weaker-prescription lenses for extended reading, or conscientiously taking breaks every twenty-minutes or so while reading or staring at the computer screen. The problem is that my prescription is so strong, doing the work for my eyes to focus on far-away things. When I spend so much time focusing on near-at-hand things, my eyes have to work really hard to see through my glasses. In any case, it's a pain. I have definitely been feeling eye-strain and fatigue.
>> 8:01 PM
Tuesday, June 05, 2001
Don't know why I get so flustered around Todd. I think it's because he's so "normal." He's white. He's married. Has two kids. Etc. etc. And so I feel like I have no idea how to act around him, if he hates me because I'm so much the "other" to his "norm." I should just stop, I know. But when he came into the SITES lab today, I suddenly felt like I was doing something wrong, like I didn't belong there, even though I was perfectly within my bounds and he had told me to keep the key to the lab so I could use it during the summer whenever I wanted.
>> 12:59 PM
[Magic moments, when two hearts are caring
Magic moments, memories we've been sharing]
I know they didn't write the song, but it's so silly, nostalgic, ironic, and just plain fun.
>> 10:27 AM
Don't want to deal with the humid heat, but I want to try to get Adobe Photoshop on my computer, so that means I have to trek back over to campus (20 minute drive to parking lot, 10 minute bus ride to campus) to get the software. Maybe I'll just be lazy and stay at home. But I should go read in the library anyways. It'll be cool, dry, and air-conditioned in there, too.
Need to get going on thesis work, too -- professor has e-mailed me to talk about the paper I turned in to him a few weeks ago, and with that means the start of substantive work on this bigger project. (I've been reading and re-reading some material that I'll need to think about the thesis.)
Hunger calls now, though -- some chicken and rice for lunch.
>> 10:15 AM
Monday, June 04, 2001
[40,000 Turn Out in Hong Kong To Mark Tiananmen Killings] June 3-4, 1989. Tiananmen Square. The students. The tanks. The massacre. I remember when my parents bought some t-shirts commemorating the struggle of the students to be heard. Don't wear these if you ever go to China, they told me. The t-shirts have long since been tucked away into the back of closets.
[Landmark verdict shapes 'alienation of affections' debate] I hadn't heard about this case until yesterday when I chanced upon a copy of the Sunday edition of the News & Observer in a cafe. What interests me about the case is the rhetoric of romance and passion in Jeff Presser and Debby Tyson's words. Given my understandings of freedom to love and the pursuit of passions, I side very much with Presser and Tyson. So I can't understand why there is a law to exact monetary revenge on lovers. This particular case seems so cut-and-dry, and yet Debby's husband wants damages for the "alienation of affections" that Presser supposedly caused. As if those affections were his to own in the first place . . .
>> 2:42 PM
Saturday, June 02, 2001[Duck crossing!] (From [sfgate.com].)
>> 2:25 PM
Friday, June 01, 2001[news report] about Senator John McCain (R) hanging out with Senator Tom Daschle (D) seems to me to reveal a strange anxiety about politics and communication. Why are party lines supposed to be so rigid? Is this what a two-party system best provides? I rather think "close working relationships" between people of divergent ideological positions is the only grounds for productive politics. But I'm probably just naive. And I do recognize the significance of having "majority" power in either house of Congress, especially in terms of committee leadership. So why all the concern about the social interaction of McCain and Daschle? Why in the world is it a national news story? It does show, I guess, how important social nuances are in the world of politics. Who you invite to your house means a lot about who you're willing to listen to, what you're willing to consider. Ah well.
In [other news], Rob Walker describes some consequences of Internet communication and the amorphousness of e-mails and web postings. Are there analogues in other forms of communication? Are e-mails private conversations? Conversations in public? Water-cooler banter? Public speeches? Although the ease of such communication does make it seem ephemeral, like everyday speech, its easy reproduction and dissemination gives it a new quality, not quite like the permanence of printed material, though similar in its concreteness as text. And to think, if Walker had considered some e-journals or [blogs] in his research. Hmm...
>> 11:36 PM
>> 11:17 PM
>> 9:06 AM
atom site feed
asian american writers' workshop
the new york times
jon carroll @ sfgate
the village voice
let bygones be...
the old stuff