Sunday, March 30, 2008

  1. 15-page paper on D. H. Lawrence and the suppression of desire.
  2. 20-page paper on John Berryman's Dream Songs and a connection with form and tone in the music of Alfred Schnittke
  3. Rereading aforementioned Dream Songs
  4. Taxes
  5. Grading 8 papers
  6. Critiquing 2 short stories for workshop
  7. Critiquing 8 poems for workshop
  8. Writing 2 poems for workshop
  9. Laundry
  10. Week's plan for English 106 and 205
  11. Critiquing 17 poetry portfolios and typing up suggestions
  12. By Wednesday
  13. Oh, and writing a thesis-reading introduction
  14. You get the idea

Friday, March 21, 2008

As of this evening...

The Hardee's sign is still as pictured in my previous post. I'm wondering how many Jalapeno Thickpurges they've managed to sell in the meantime.

I've got much to write about, but nothing well-formed enough to make it sound at all intelligent.

Went to teach class this morning, then went to a local auction where I bought a small end-table for around $50, then came home, bought a small amount of groceries, memorized a poem about oral sex for class on Monday, and read 50 pages of a book. Overall, a day that fits in the "Not at all bad" category. I attempted to eat Mexican while reading Gertrude Stein and, well, it was easier trying to keep the salsa on the chips, quite frankly. I get the fact that Lucy Church is actually a church building and that there are various characters which could be the saints that inhabit said church (the characters are named John Mary, James Mary, and Simon Therese, among others) but then I get to passages like this:

In place of strange.
Complicated horses now. Horses now cow now complicated horses now. Horses now horses and a cow now. Complicated horses now.
It is torn in between and shells egg shells it is best as yellow peaches with a rose rosy rosy green.
Lucy Church an advantage Lucy Church made by it being with them it is attempting with them attempting with them. And might it be that that good good good if if it is not a bee or a wind a bee is from there and the wind is from there and so sheep so sewn so seated so when and then then so so much as much as withdraw.

And at that, I just have to turn to my plate of chips and refrieds and munch on that. I've found a book I need to send someone, I've got 14 papers to grade, as well as a number of other household tasks to do. Complicated horses now. Complicated now. Now. Not a bee or a wind. Complicated horses. Now.

The pic is from Berlin, very near Potsdamerplatz, the strange preserved remnants of a hotel where all the bright set sat. The dining room where Chaplin had breakfast, where Dietrich ordered eggs, now exposed to air, enclosed in glass and avant-garde architecture. The scarf gone, the coat still worn, the cold not the same but back, now there, now waning.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

There's Truth in Advertising...

After my 75th nap of the week, I went staggering off to the neighborhood grocery store to get a bit of food (yogurt? no--they don't have my brand, haven't had it since yesterday) for the rest of the week (vegetables? Nix--Mondo expensivo and all from Chile), so I don't starve (shark-shaped fruit snacks? Check--and for only a dollar a box. I'll take two, thanks...). And as I near Hardees I see their improvised sign. On closer examination, the P was modified to be a B using sharpie pen, but that alteration all but vanishes once backlit. The wind has carried off the ending R, so what you have is a perfect description of Hardee's latest burger. I wonder how long it'll be before they notice. I ran home to get the camera so that all of my ones of blogreaders can enjoy the moment with me.

I am good for little else than reading and napping still; here's hoping I can scrape it together for the remainder of the week, as I have serious shizz to do. In the interim, I nap and try to make sense out of Gertrude Stein, who makes sense occasionally, then doesn't make sense at all, then comes up with a gem of a line. For example, one paragraph from the opening to Lucy Church Amiably:

This altogether makes a return to romantic nature that is it makes a landscape look like an engraving in which there are some people, after all if they are to be seen there they feel as pretty as they look and this makes it have a river a gorge an inundation and a remarkable meadowed mass which is whatever they use not to feed but to bed cows.

and a page later:

No history of a family to close with those and close. Never shall he be alone to be alone to be alone to be alone to them to lend a hand and leave it left and wasted.

But more of Stein at a later date.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Virulent Mayhem and Administrative Ignorance

Well, this morning was certainly a new low in the illness department. I was reduced to rolling around on the bed for hours, squeezing my skull in the hopes it wouldn't come apart due to sinus pressure. Any worse and for any longer and I was going to stumble to the car and hit the hospital. Things have lightened up significantly since then, but I've been up all of 5 hours so far today. And going to the drugstore across the street was a lovely experience, what with having to show all that I.D. just to get Sudafed, then having to use the stylus thingie to sign an electronic screen certifying that I'm gonna use the Sudafed for congestion control and not to concoct anything in my basement that'll keep me up the three days. When I'm sick, I'm super-anal about being an agent of contagion and had brought my own pen so as to sign the credit card receipt, but no, I had to grab the germy stylus and add my own pathogens to it for any other subsequent signers to catch.

After waking up from nap No. 3, I grabbed my cloth bags and headed to Kroger for some food, as I'm fresh out. As I was walking under the gas station canopy toward the grocery store, I noticed the current price of gas. Now, it was only a week ago that Bush, at his press conference, said in that can-it-with-questions-like-that tone that he "hadn't heard" of projections that gas was going to top $4 a gallon. It's been a week since and I see that regular here is at $3.49 and diesel is at $3.80. He's from an oil family, his family is a big player in the global Oil game, and he comes up with something like that? "Interesting..." he says, "hadn't heard that..." It's certainly gonna be a long time until January if this is how he's gonna be for the rest of his administration.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Two Dreams--

Same night:
In a large gymnasium. There are other folk around for some event or other. As people talk below of the persecution of people in Middle Eastern countries, I find myself way high up, tightrope-style on a metal electrical conduit. I am close enough to the cement slab ceiling that I am steadying myself on another conduit that runs along the ceiling, pinching it between my thumb and the side of my forefinger. People talking intently far below me. I manage to get to the wall and, with the same pinchlike hold, slide down a conduit to the gym floor. I keep mentally reminding myself that I'm traveling soon and need to make arrangements. When am I going? Around the 15th? Have I put off making arrangements for too long? Not quite, but I need to make arrangements soon, right after this engagement, which people are slowly gathering for, whatever it is. The whole gym is brilliantly lit rosy orange-pink from the high-pressure sodium bulbs along the ceiling.


It's warm and I'm in bed. I wake up perhaps an hour or so before sunrise, perhaps more. I roll over and look out my two bedroom windows--which have been open--to the neighboring house. The neighbor, who has been gone for a while (or have I been hearing her in my sleep and therefore has she just left?) has left some lights on: through her window I see mundanely-framed objects; a lightswitch, half an arched doorway to the hall, half a pictureframe. Something motivates me to go outside and inspect--is there someone out there that shouldn't be? I'm still thinking about the need to make travel arrangements. I walk along the north side of the house. The neighbor's house looks recently-vacated--the light inside still on, the silence seeming somehow fresh, somehow recently-instated. The neighbor's car (an Escort, European-style, with extra-large headlights) sits in the parking lot behind the house. In fact, the parking lot extends all the way to Euclid street for several lots where houses used to be. How long have the houses been gone now? The lot all well-lit by high-pressure sodium vapor security lights. I hear barking behind me. Rounding the corner of the house by the front porch is Samson, our dog back in the '80s. He thinks I'm an intruder. I call him Winton (the neighbor's dog's name, whose house I just discovered no longer exists). I correct myself and call him by his right name but he's already recognized my voice. Before the dog's bark, before I turned around, I could see the stars above, all clearly visible in spite of the lighting, in that way that a pre-dawn winter sky is bright and icily clear. Leo had wheeled around and was about to head under the horizon to the northwest. And the song playing as soundtrack to both dreams? An ever-repeating opening half of "Deja-Vu" by Dionne Warwick.

Im so very...

...happy to have gotten a cold on my first official day of Spring Break. I just can't tell you how happy. Well, I could, but I'm sticking to the positive.

I've paid my mortgage, am thusly poor, and have the rest of the day to try to read and do things when I'd really like to scoop the insides of my skull out with a spoon.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Everything is So Dangerous That Nothing is Really Frightening saith Gertrude Stein. And it's true. Looking back, most of our recollections of childhood and adolescence will have us wondering how we ever survived this long. I'm comfortably into double-digits as far as near scrapes that come to mind. And those are only the ones that one evaded back when we were young and stupid and didn't know what else was going on in this great wide world. One result of this is to react the way Stein does in her quote, or another is to work on insulating oneself from possible harm, and to keep an eye out for nascent threats. Based on my rather non-scientific observations, the latter reaction tends to result in spending most of one's time looking out for the start of a bad trend, for ulterior motives, for things that might point in a dark direction, any of which could result in having to take decisive or evasive action. After a while, such a focus tends to make one more than a bit on the cagey side. One looks ahead, as in chess, two moves, four moves ahead, and with each jump further ahead in time, the possible moves that act as threat are squared, then cubed. After a while, you're jumpy as a caffeinated hare and just as frozen as all these perceived threats close in.
Lots of such people exist. I'm sure you know the sort--they find gated communities attractive, drive as big an SUV as possible because they're safe (though they put drivers of smaller cars at greater risk of injury), they go to jobs they don't like because the money isn't bad and the benefits are good, they spend most of their time cultivating the company of people they don't like and who don't like them, generally out of an idea that such networking will be beneficial regarding one's social standing.
If there's one thing I've been unlearning, it's just such a habit of fearful squinting so many moves ahead. It's a habit I've gained over the past 15 years; of doing silly things like trying to get on in offices and trying to play things their way. While I was doing so, I found myself walking more and more into the middle of things that I actually was wanting to get away from. Rather than gaining independence, I was more and more tied to the opinions and whims of people that didn't know what language people spoke in Scotland or that the main job of our President is to uphold the Constitution, not do whatever it takes to make it more comfortable for us to get cheaply-made knickknacks made in Indonesia just like those ones they used in Trading Spaces. And at 38, I'm too old to have people like that always around thinking up new ways to make my life uncomfortable. I've got crap to do.
Speaking of Stein, while at the bookstore today (I'd gone out simply to take some Auden back to the library and suddenly I'm at Half Price) I found two rare Stein novels, evidently republished not long ago by Dalkey Archive: the never-anthologized Lucy Church Amiably and the behemoth and not-published-since-1934 (and then only in abridged form) The Making of Americans--all 925 pages of it. In her inimitable way, she writes in a letter to Carl VanVechten, that
Lots of people will thinkmany strange things in it as to tenses and persons and adjectives and adverbs and divisions are due to the french compositors' errors but they are not it is quite as I worked at it and even when I tried to change it well I didn't really try but I went over it to see if it could go different and I always found myself forced back into its incorrectnesses so there they stand. There are some pretty wonderful sentences in it and we know how fond we both are of sentences.

This passage alone is a good example of Stein's hatred of the comma.

Much reading tomorrow, methinks.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Not that You'd Know it Here...

...but it's Spring Break. 4 inches of snow so far, though it should still be falling for the next seven hours yet. My ThingsToDo list is outta control. But hey, I've got some groceries, my bread machine, 1800 books, and a can of cashews. I may actually be most of the way through my reading list by the time the rescue crews manage to come down the chimney.

Actual mental activity might return by tomorrow. Until then, I'm off to bed. If I never see an Elizabeth Bishop poem in the meantime, I certainly won't mind.
The picture above isn't of my neighborhood, but that of one of my poetry profs in West Lafayette. My car was parked between the two pickups. For some reason I got a ticket, with a given reason that I was in a 2-hour spot. Please note that there is no sign anywhere near the parking spot indicating that. I contested the ticket, and the ticket lady--no doubt an embittered soul (whose only feeling of power rests in jabbing orange envelopes into people's windows so that they freeze and cannot be removed without tearing, leaving half of the envelope stuck underneath the weatherstrip to fall into the window mechanism--not that I'm at all bitter about that), informed me that she would not waive the ticket, in spite of photographic evidence that there was no sign. This leaves me only one further option, which is to go to court to fight it. If I can get ticketed here, where can't I get ticketed? Also, please note that the two trucks--which were there at the same time, got snowed on, and were there the following morning when I took the pic don't have tickets. Grr.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Wrestling the Bear

Hey all--I'll post more sometime after I get these zillions of things done. Even though I teach how to write term papers, such writing doesn't come particularly easily to me, and have two papers due this week which I want to have done by Tuesday. I have some other research I need to work on for my year after graduation. The Sycamore Review bash was lovely, as was the party afterwards, though they did little to forward progress on aforementioned papers.

Later, taters...