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Saturday, December 09, 2000
I just visited my friend Eric's [homepage]. It's not been updated in awhile (he's a very busy guy and he actually spends soooo much more time on his course work than I do), but his message is as important and alive today as it was when he put together the page a few years ago. As with other writers I admire, Eric presents his ideas through words that portray such a beautiful personality.
Have I mentioned here yet that I want to write stories?

Amber at [www.ooooner.com] mentioned a personality quiz today. I took [The Color Quiz] just now. The results are eerie in their insights:

Your Existing Situation
Needs warm companionship, but is intolerant of anything short of special consideration from those close to him. If this is not forthcoming, is liable to shut himself away from them.

Your Stress Sources
Delights in the tasteful, the gracious, and the sensitive, but maintains his attitude of critical appraisal and refuses to be swept off his feet unless genuineness and integrity can be absolutely vouched for. Therefore keeps a strict and watchful control on his emotional relationships as he must know exactly where he stands. Demands complete sincerity as a protection against his own tendency to be too trusting.

Your Restrained Characteristics
Feels trapped in a distressing or uncomfortable situation and seeking some way of gaining relief. Able to achieve satisfaction from sexual activity. Clings to his belief that his hopes and ideas are realistic, but needs encouragement and reassurance. Applies very exacting standards to his choice of a partner and wants guarantees against loss or disappointment.

Your Desired Objective
Feels the existing circumstances are hostile and is exhausted by conflict and quarreling. Wishes to protect himself and hides his intentions to avoid exposing them to attack, so that they will be safer and easier to achieve. Careful to avoid stirring up any opposition which might endanger his plans.

Your Actual Problem
Needs to protect himself against his tendency to be too trusting, as he finds it is liable to be misunderstood or exploited by others. As a result, he adopts a critical and stand-offish attitude, being willing to participate only where he can be assured of sincerity and trustworthiness.

I wonder how the thing works. The test consists solely of choosing blocks of color.

Was there life before the body became an equation?
     -- [Lawrence Chua], Gold by the Inch

This is the question that is eating up all my time. Actually, I've modified the question to ask, how did the body become an equation and is there any relief from this condition of commodification?
Friday, December 08, 2000
I remember when I was in [college], I very much wanted to be an op-ed columnist for either the [Yale Daily News] or the [Yale Herald]. I applied two or three times to be a columnist, sending in sample columns, but never so much as received a rejection notice. They must've just thought my writing was completely worthless. Ah well. It would've been fun to write about what mattered to me on a public forum. One column I particularly admired (and wanted to emulate) was ["Marking Time" by Annie Koh]. There was just something so insightful and personal about her columns. While they addressed a wide range of topics, there was always a very definite authorial presence and perspective in her writing. I wonder what she is up to these days.

The closest I got to writing a column for these papers was working for a semester as a contributing reporter for the YDN. I'm surprised my [articles] are archived on the web. I was more of an event / entertainment reporter than anything else. (By the way, the cheesy first lines are none of my own. My editor always insisted on writing a "catchy" first line for my pieces.)

Oh, and I really loved Matt Wiegle's comic strip, [The Idiot's Tales]. My favorite one is [this one]. (The voiceless rage of the spider. Hee hee.)

Mmm....donut..... (Which reminds me, I saw [The Simpsons Clue] game in the mall yesterday. Sounds like fun. I've never actually played the original Clue board game, but the [movie] was a riot.)

One reason why I like [Christina Aguilera] (or, what I was thinking as I drove to school today):

When I talk to people face to face for the first time, I often get the feeling that their gaze keeps drifting to my earring / tragus piercing. (Look on the [web] for pictures of tragus piercings if you don't know where the tragus is or what a piercing there looks like.) I'm not going into detail why I decided to get such a piercing (that's a post for another day and would in fact involve constructing a narrative of intentions that would be as much after-the-fact as before), but in essence, whatever my intentions, having such a piercing places me more blatantly in a position of negotiating my self-expressions and what people read and see on my body and in my actions. In other words, it draws attention to me. As a general rule, I don't like to draw attention to myself, so I am faced with this strange situation of either keeping the piercing and what it means for me or removing it and disappearing from people's gaze or censure.

I feel that Christina Aguilera recognizes a similar dilemma in confronting the media's (and the public's) interpretation of her, her actions, and her music. But the fact that she meets that challenge head on is very heartening for me. I am not saying that she knows her situation in any full way -- no one ever can, in my opinion -- but it seems to me that she has such a strong faith in what she intends with her music career that other people's negative views of her actions can never fully demoralize her. And this is not to say that she completely ignores any criticism or what other people say. She in fact takes these things seriously. In one interview (on MTV's Diaries series), she says that when you no longer consider the advice or views of other people, then you are lost (as a person) and in a bad place.

Put another way, I think part of Christina's attraction for me is her strength of conviction that is not so resolute as to be dogmatic. In some ways, it means that I appreciate the moments of vulnerability that pepper stories of her life. In this same MTV Diaries show, there's a moment in which she talks about Fred Durst's snide comments about her music in apology to his fans for their joint performance on an MTV award show. Although she was angry at such a betrayal and understood Durst's comments as a puerile reaction, she was also sincerely hurt by the betrayal and the ability of others to re-interpret situations radically and flippantly.

I remember when I first heard her "Genie in a Bottle" song, I thought Christina was incredibly naive for engaging the idea of a genie as herself. Given the cultural weight of female genies as compliant wish-granters for their male masters, I couldn't see how any woman could successful adopt such an identity. However, because Christina did attempt to explain the "meaning" of the song in interviews, I began to see that she was positing a different perspective on the female genie trope. By shifting the story to the point at which "you" must rub the lamp "the right way" in order to release her, she was presenting herself as a genie that needs to be treated fairly before a relationship can develop. She draws on a Spice Girls-esque "girl power" theme here (as well as in "What a Girl Wants") as the driving idea of self-empowerment for women.

Well, in any case, I just like the fact that Christina as a person is able to be / perform Christina as a pop star.

Thursday, December 07, 2000
(And it seems, from the website, that The Clapper is made by the same company that makes [Chia Pets]! Chia Pets are definitely another one of those weird products that walk that line between useful and silly. The commercials for Chia Pets have that same low-tech, dare I say slightly campy, aspect, too. I, in fact, have a Chia Pet, but it is currently stored in its box in the closet. I grew the Chia bunny once when I first got it. I managed to grow this strange grey fuzz. I don't think it was mold or bacteria or something disgusting like that, but so odd that it wasn't green chia fuzz... Maybe I should get one of the new [Looney Toons] Chia Pets as a gift for someone...)
Ok. I don't think my brother reads this journal, so I can make the following comment. It's just silly. I was helping Joe do some Christmas shopping this evening. We were at a store somewhere in the mall when I saw [The Clapper]. Clap twice to turn on the lights. Three times for the TV!

Now, my brother had told me last week that I don't need to get him anything because he already got a big gift from our parents for Christmas / our birthday (a five-piece speaker system). Anyways, I figured I would just get him some small gift. I haven't been thinking about what to get him (or anyone else) yet, but when I saw The Clapper, I was just struck with this strange feeling that it would be a fun gift for him. I have no idea what his new apartment space is like (except he's decorating it with furniture from [IKEA]), but I know he must've seen the hokey commercials on television for The Clapper. It just seems to me like a "useful" gift that few people would really buy for themselves. It's almost a gag gift, but not totally. Or maybe I'm just delirious.

Hmmm. Ok, so I am not totally disenchanted with [EarthLink], my ISP. In fact, it's been fairly good to me so far -- I don't have trouble with busy signals or getting cut off -- until this recent problem. I called up tech support just now. After a ten minute hold, I finally got to talk to someone (didn't catch his name). He walked me through a whole bunch of steps, altering hardware setup files. And now the dial-up file transferring stuff works again! He said that the files controlling file transfer with the modem were corrupted. He doesn't know why it happens, but apparently it happens with some frequency with people's computers. Luckily, he did know how to fix it. I would not be able to fix the problem again, however, if it were to re-occur. This computer stuff is totally mystified for me. Yes, that means I am a mystic.
On a slightly happier note, our kitchen floor is back in place -- the floor boards, at least. All that's left to rebuild now is the linoleum / vinyl covering. And the apartment manager thinks that it'll probably be done by the weekend. I was also able to get the screw for my glasses-frames replaced. And I suppose the car covering is holding in place after I shoved it back behind the bolts the other day...
When things fall apart, they really fall apart. What a crazy week it's been. I guess it started with the [missing kitchen floor], then there was the [car trouble], then yesterday, right before my class, a screw popped out of the frame of my glasses, leaving me mostly blind, and this morning, my computer was being recalcitrant and I couldn't check my e-mail or browse the web. So, after being beaten senseless by things not working as they should, I crawled back into bed under the warmth of the covers and Joe's embrace. And when Joe had to get up to get ready for work, I put on Christina Aguilera's [debut album] and let the music and her voice take me to a happier place far far away while I convalesced under the sheets.

Being in class yesterday without my glasses was quite an interesting experience. I should try going to a class blindfolded sometime to see what that's like. I couldn't see very well, especially not people's facial expressions (something I watch fairly closely in all my classes), but I still could see blobs of color and movement. What if even those visual cues were absent? Although it was a bit disconcerting not to be able to see people's reactions to what I was saying, it was also a blessing of sorts because I was a little less self-conscious about saying things. At one point, I babbled on, unable to formulate the words I needed to express my thoughts. Usually, I would've been much more flustered than I was because I tend to interpret people's expressions as boredom, uncomprehension, spite, etc.

I almost wasn't able to drive home last night, either. As I was trying to rubber-band the lens onto the frame so I could get home, I dropped the lens under the car seat. It took me a good while groping around in the dark and squeezing my hand into not-very-fun-and-full-of-grime crevices before I was able to retrieve it. But then I managed to drive home with a rubber band around the center of the right lens, holding it (and my sanity) in place.

I hope my computer isn't singing its swan song. It's been getting buggy little by little over the past few months. I have no idea why I wasn't able to download my e-mail this morning. I hope it's a problem with my ISP. The dial-up program seemed to be functioning alright, though. I was able to connect to a few different numbers. But once I connected, there didn't seem to be any more data transfers. My mail program and web browsers all claimed that they couldn't locate the servers. Another problem is that sometimes my computer won't recognize the CD-ROM drive. Re-starting the computer seems to help with that problem, at least. I wonder if there' s a virus on my computer. Just my luck. If it doesn't get me through this next week and the paper-writing I still have left, I will seriously throw it over a bridge somewhere.

Wednesday, December 06, 2000
It's frightening how incapacitated I become when I don't get much sleep. Yesterday was one of those zombie-like days. I drifted around, tried to write, gave a presentation in class, and yet was so unaware of what was happening the whole time. It's like my mind and body are in power-save mode, fearing yet another night of little sleep.
Tuesday, December 05, 2000
Damn. No new [Buffy] episode today to get me through the week.

It's a good thing there are large windows in [Davis Library]. I don't like dark, dusty book stacks very much. Probably because I'm afraid of the dark. And get sneezy around dust.

I wonder how many books I can fit into my backpack...

Monday, December 04, 2000

The most significant theme of the new cultural politics of difference is the agency, capacity and ability of human beings who have been culturally degraded, politically oppressed and economically exploited by bourgeois liberal and Communist illiberal status quo. This theme neither romanticizes nor idealizes marginalized peoples. Rather, it accentuates their humanity and tries to attenuate the institutional constraints on their life-chances for surviving and thriving.

-- Cornel West, "The New Cultural Politics of Difference" (1990)

This makes me feel better.
I'm so excited that I'll be able to see [Holcombe Waller] perform live on December 20th when I go home to California for winter break. His new album, [Extravagant Gesture], is finally available as well. Yay!
This my new motto by way of :F Better Fangs?: Quit whining and walk!

No doubt, I shall be excommunicated as an enemy of the people, because I repudiate the mass as a creative factor. I shall prefer that rather than be guilty of the demagogic platitudes so commonly in vogue as a bait for the people. I realize the malady of the oppressed and disinherited masses only too well, but I refuse to prescribe the usual ridiculous palliatives which allow the patient neither to die nor to recover.

-- Emma Goldman, "Preface" to Anarchism and Other Essays (1917)

There is something so seductive about libertarian / anarchist rhetoric about the individual as best determinant of freedom, life, pleasure, etc. And I have few qualms with Goldman's refusal to endorse a majoritarian rule as democracy and her insistence on working with "the oppressed and disinherited masses." But sometimes it's just all too much. I just want to say, forget about the world. Let everyone else believe what they will and be self-interested. What is it to me to be taken advantage of? If someone else must always get the better deal in exchanges with me, then so be it. It just seems so petty, fighting so constantly for "fairness" when it really shouldn't be anyone's to claim or manipulate.
If I ignore it, it will go away. A plastic covering under my car is coming off. I discovered the problem Saturday night when I drove the car out of the parking lot and heard a constant scraping noise. I stopped driving. Yesterday, I pushed the plastic piece back into place. Unfortunately, it is by no means attached securely. I should get it fixed, but I just don't want to deal with it right now. I can only hope that nothing crucial to the functioning / safety of the car has fallen out.
I can't believe no one told me about Christina Aguilera's Christmas special ["My Reflection"]. Grrrr.
Sunday, December 03, 2000
French: ombragé canard
German: shadowy Ente
Italian: oscura anatra
Portuguese: shadowy pato
Spanish: vago pato

(Are the adjective-noun orders/syntaxes correct or is this just a word-by-word translation of "shadowy duck"?)

Wow. [Babel Fish] at [AltaVista] is a fun-interesting service. It apparently translates webpages for you. I don't know how well it works though, being (frustratingly) such a monoglot. I did translate my blog into French for fun. Here's what it returned for my previous post:

[ quelqu'un ] svp enchaînez-moi à mon clavier, cachent la ligne téléphonique (ainsi moi ne peut pas composer vers le haut de mon ISP), et m'incitent à écrire mes papiers.

Does it make any sense?

[Someone] please chain me to my keyboard, hide the phone line (so I can't dial up my ISP), and make me write my papers.
Re: 1 December 2000

It was important to me to mark World AIDS Day on my weblog because my understanding of sexuality (however confused) has undeniably been shaped by the media discourses on AIDS and homosexuality since the late-80s. The knowledge of so many gay men who died from AIDS complications was a sobering influence on personal negotiations with desire. In fact, I would go so far as to say that my first, and for many years only, contact with talk of homosexuality was filtered through the disease-inflected homosexual-panic of the time. For me, AIDS equaled gay men equaled death. It was a bleak equation, but one that stirred a sense of critical inquiry into how others defined (my) identity.

The community in which I grew up was sufficiently concerned with the AIDS crisis to emphasize AIDS / safe sex workshops in the general sex education classes. By the time I reached the sixth and seventh grades, students from the local high school were giving us AIDS awareness talks and passing out red ribbons. Of note is the way in which these safe sex and AIDS awareness talks focused on "saving" heterosexual intercourse without acknowledging the importance of queer resistance in fighting the AIDS crisis. AIDS, by this point, had become both a disease-of-the-gays and a problem for the morally upright heterosexual population. As a result, I remained trapped in the problematic of AIDS=gays=death.

It wasn't until I got to college (and importantly, moved away from home) that I encountered a far more open atmosphere about homosexuality. I began to realize that there was a pernicious ideological bent to AIDS discourses. I became aware of ACT UP's work (though by this point their heyday had passed) and others' in fighting for prevention and treatment while also attacking the equating of AIDS and disease with "deviant" sexuality. And because AIDS still remained (and still does?) firmly entrenched in my psyche as a marker of homosexuality, I began to engage with AIDS awareness / prevention groups. If nothing else, these groups provided me with a social context that affirmed (my) homosexuality without requiring me explicitly to proclaim my desires. In fact, for the next couple of years while I remained closeted, I looked to AIDS prevention work as a way of acknowledging to myself that I was gay.

Fast forward a few years. At the start of the new millenium, I look back to see just how difficult it has been for me finally to disengage myself from that equation AIDS=gays=death. While the AIDS=death part is still a crisis, albeit deferred greatly by anti-viral treatments and a move towards decoupling HIV-infection from moral discourses, the AIDS=gays part has for me largely been replaced by / translated into an embrace of queer resistance to homophobia.

Where's the snow? We were supposed to be blanketed by heavy snowfall by daybreak. Yet not a speck of snow in sight. The weather forecasters need to work on their prognostication. Maybe they need some fresher entrails.

I woke up this morning with a head full of night-dreams. Kind of scary-strange that two webloggers showed up in one of my dreams because the only contact I've had with "them" is through reading their blogs. (Although, I guess movie stars and TV stars have showed up in my dreams before--and I know them in a similar way.) Other elements in my dreams: kidnapping, intent to jump out of moving car, car accidents, trucks falling off bridges, betrayal, a sense of utter lack of agency, and slow-motion scenes that highlighted the inevitability of disasters.

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