Thursday, May 31, 2001

Joe and I were just trying to remember the name of a movie we saw in the past year. Joe at first thought we had seen Tsai Ming-liang's The River, but I was pretty sure we hadn't. He remembered the closing scene of this movie we saw involving a lake or a river or some other such large body of water. After much thought and flipping through my day-organizer, I figured out it was Goodbye South, Goodbye, a film by Hou Hsiao-hsien. We saw it at a [Duke] East Asian film festival. The funny thing was that Joe thought I would have blogged about the movie because we saw it in the past academic year. I didn't remember blogging about it, though -- and sure enough, we saw the movie on September 11, about a month before I started this log (that functions as my memory).

In any case, the film wouldn't have merited much of an entry. It wasn't nearly as impressive as the other film by Hou I saw, City of Sadness. I think the subject matter and the approach to telling a story was more to my liking in City of Sadness.

Since I'm on the subject of movies, I guess I might as well log here that I've been watching videos quite a bit lately. (I guess that's where a lot of my time has gone.) In addition to Shadow of the Vampire, I saw Naked Acts (a forgettable film about a young aspiring actress who has to come to terms with her body and nudity -- not very provocatively linked to sexual molestation in her past) and Strawberry Fields (a strange film about a Japanese American teenager trying to figure out her parents' past in the concentration/internment camps after her sister's death). In a few minutes, I will be watching with Joe and a friend The Journey of Jared Price, a movie about a gay kid who goes to LA in search of... something...

      >> 7:09 PM

Finally saw [Shadow of the Vampire]. Pretty good film. Blurring the line between fiction and fact, acting and acting. Though I wouldn't say any of the ideas are new, still an interesting story about the obsessions of artists in representing a (the?) "real."

My eyes are really bugging me lately. I should probably get them checked out. I know my glasses aren't quite right because I get headaches wearing them and I'm constantly trying to shift their position on my face to get a clearer view of things. What a pain . . . I actually went back to wearing an older pair of glasses today. The prescription for the lenses is the same, but the frame seems to fit me better, or at least doesn't torture me as much. (The other frame breaks apart all the time -- the lens popped out YET AGAIN last night. Luckily, I was sitting in bed or else I would never have been able to find the tiny screw.)

Haven't been able to read lately. Combination of eye/headache problems, obsession with other possible projects, and general malaise. But still went out and bought some one-hundred-dollars' worth of books anyways today. Attempted retail therapy. Not so successful.

      >> 3:43 PM

Tuesday, May 29, 2001

Head. Ache. It's painful and it won't go away. Tried caffeine. Tried the decongestants, thinking this might be like the sneaky sinus headache I had a few weeks ago. Tried painkillers. Nothing helping. Throb throb. Pound pound. Erg.

Trying to figure out how to fill a browser screen with text without using an image.

      >> 1:51 PM

Monday, May 28, 2001

[If I had a hammer . . .]

Day getting off to incredibly slow start. Managed to make a cottage pie for lunch, though.

Yesterday was picnic day. A bunch of people in my class got together for a cook out. Nice to see people around. Then I met up with Joe and his friends at a house where we hung out for another three or four hours. Played Trivial Pursuit.

I guess I've been trying to spend time with people outside more lately. The confines of my apartment, of my mind, can get really strange, stagnant, too-serious. Branching out, talking to people (though I still don't like to do it), being in different locations -- it all seems to salve my mind, keeping it from circling endlessly around pointless questions. I've always been against routine in my life, though I realize some regularity is necessary these days, and mixing up how I spend my days can only go so far when all I do is sit around and read.

      >> 2:26 PM

Saturday, May 26, 2001

Urg. Trying desperately to continue organizing my papers. I'm too much of a packrat, though. Don't know what to do with the stacks of magazines I have lying around. Recycle? Throw away? Stash in the corner of the room? It's difficult for me to throw out even the smallest scrap of paper because the very concrete existence of the scraps points to my real existence in some distant past. Otherwise, everything is a haze, a mere dream. I need the physical documentation.

      >> 5:36 PM

Friday, May 25, 2001

Reading Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves now. Mark is the brother of singer-songwriter [Poe]. House of Leaves is creepy. Haunted house. Please leave the light on tonight.

Thinking, also, that I want to set up bibliography pages for critical work done on stuff like Theresa Hak Kyung Cha's Dictée on my web site.

      >> 8:03 PM

Thursday, May 24, 2001

[Mr. Dean] writes about road rage and becoming more calm about driving. I think I've mentioned before how I've become decidedly more laid-back about driving and traffic. I, too, used to be a maniacal road-rager. I used to think everyone was driving poorly and/or deliberating aggravating me. Not a pretty sight. I even took matters into my own hands (and feet) with my parents and brother (and I think my friend Eric, too, when he visited me over winter break one year) in the car, tailgating, cutting off offenders, the whole nine yards. I think the feeling of rage is related to my desire to get away from people a lot. I don't like being surrounded by people. I can't stand having people walk closely behind me, for example, around campus. Give me room!! It's a kind of people-claustrophobia. I need my space. But I've become much more calm in terms of driving. I can sit in my car and think of myself as in my safe, enclosed space. I turn on my music, sing along often, and just go with the flow of traffic. I still get anxious when people follow me closely behind. I don't think I'm ever the target of people's road rage in that respect -- I'm still conscious of what other people might think of me, so I try to avoid aggravating others. I usually stay close to the car in front of me, though not right up against it.

(Side note: I think I just saw Pierre from my undergraduate days wander into the library here. Don't know for sure if it was him or why he would be here. Don't see him now, but maybe I should go over to the other side of the Information Commons to see if he's still around.)

      >> 10:34 AM

Hmmm... I think I want a tattoo now. A small one. Somewhere. A nice little marking; cryptic, provocative. Maybe a henna tattoo that isn't too permanent...

The most beautiful day outside now. Read for an hour in the sun. A couple of Mormon missionaries stopped to talk to me while I read. I thought I was in California for awhile. The warm sun on my skin, a slight breeze to take off the sting of the heat. Not hot, though, and definitely not humid. Thank goodness for the dryness. I think I'll spend some more time outside again. I wish I hadn't lost the sunglasses-clip for my eyeglasses frame. What a pity. I would pick up a replacement clip (for some $60 or so) except I'm seriously considering getting a new frame and lenses. Need to get my eyes checked, too.

      >> 10:16 AM

Wednesday, May 23, 2001

Finally saw [Memento] this evening. Veeeeeeery interesting. The story told backwards was cool, but more interesting was the whole concept of memory, remembering, writing things down. I liked the destabilization of memory as concrete fact, and by extension, the questioning of perception as reality. Leonard, the man with no new memories, relies on the fact that his old memories are correct. Writing on the body via tattoos works into my fascination with how people inscribe the body with meaning -- here, literally with words. Wonder why one phrase alone was tattooed "backwards" on Leonard's body, though -- how does that relate to its status as the fundamental "fact" of his search?

Elizabeth had mentioned she didn't really think the ending worked very well. I actually thought the ending was perfect. Instead of the backwards-narrative resolving into a definite point of origin, it opens outward into endless possibilities of fiction. You leave not knowing if any of the things that you don't see on the screen ever happened at all.

And of course, the constructing of a life of purpose for Leonard is very interesting. Without the ability to make new memories, how can he go on? Bert, the front-desk guy at the motel, says at one point that it must be strange to know where you're going at a particular moment (note written to self), but not to know what happened immediately before -- the whys and wherefores.

The characters Natalie and Teddy bring up questions of motivation and manipulation. The circularity of their actions, the explicit performances they make, bring into question how we act or perform ourselves in our lives every day.

The interesting thing about the narrative format is that if the story had been told straightforwardly, it would have been very boring. There would have been no tension at all in the story. How the episodes told backwards build layer upon layer is amazing. But if I think about the story forwards, I can't help but think that there is some sort of intentional momentum to Leonard's task. There is something making links, drawing him forward in the story. In a larger sense, it's the never-ending search for the killer of his wife. But in another, it's the never-ending search for a story that goes on.

Just checked out the web site again. Puts a new spin on the movie. Brings in more clearly ideas about insanity as well as of possible criminal intent. Hmmm . . .

Writing. What if writing things down was the only way we could remember? How would we organize all that information? Leonard claims to have a system. But the system turns out to be very flawed (susceptible to manipulation). And just thinking about reading something written in the past -- even that act requires interpretation. There is no direct access to the past through words. Leonard mis-reads as well as intentionally mis-writes. Creates confusions, yet the mind and the narrative move onward, creating a seamless cause-and-effect story. Who cares what the real reason is?

      >> 9:14 PM

At the [library] today, I skimmed an essay in a book about queer culture. The collection is from England and has a very different attitude towards queer theory and queerness than what I've seen in the US. Basically, the collection seems aloof, skeptical of the terms of debate of queerness vs. assimilation. And while that makes sense in some ways, I think there's also just a lot of fudging on what the assumption of queerness actually means, how it really does involve actively un-learning investments in normality. This particular essay I skimmed because of the title: "Too Hot for Yale?" The author mentions briefly the controversy around 1997 concerning Larry Kramer's gift to Yale for the establishment of a gay center and endowment of a permanent gay studies professor. I'm always amazed at how people spin the results of that gift. Basically, Yale declined the gift, though I forget the official reasons. I do know, however, as a queer student at Yale then, that there were several issues with Kramer's demands. For one, he wanted the establishment of gay white male studies exclusively. He had been an undergraduate at Yale, been miserably depressed and suicidal, and wanted to make sure no other men had to go through what he did. Surely an admirable sentiment. But his insistence on the focus of these studies on gay white men had the student [LGBT Co-op] quite concerned. What about lesbians? Bisexuals? People of color? The consistently marginalized. And Kramer really did not care. There was quite a confrontation between Kramer and students at that year's Pride Week opening event where he spoke to a fair-sized audience of about fifty people. In any case, the consistent spin on this story is that Yale was simply homophobic and unwilling to entertain Kramer's gift. But there were many other factors, including student concerns about Kramer's demands. If Kramer were truly that selfless in his donation, he might have, despite Yale administration's refusal to accept his gift, worked with the student organizations and the faculty group [FLAGS] to establish resources at a departmental or student-organization level.

([Here] is a news story about the Kramer controversy. I think I got some details wrong -- not a gift, but bequest -- but still stand by the implications of the whole shebang.)

      >> 3:02 PM

[Buffy thoughts.]

What will I do until the news season starts?

I don't think it's the season finale that has gotten me into this contemplative funk. I seem to be quite able of falling into this pit of going-nowhere quite easily on my own. But I think there's something very troubling about the questions Buffy asks in the episode, about what she can do to fulfill a sense of her self, a sense of her purpose. But it's a role that's ultimately selfless, the ultimate in sacrifice -- altruism. And while that model of self-hood is remakably moving for fantastic worlds with heroes and evil incarnate, it is ultimately not so useful in an everyday world of the 9-to-5, of bills and insurance, aggravations and violence. While I understand that the literalization of evil, pain, and suffering in Buffy is one its great attractions for me (what you can see you can deal with), I also know that I don't deal with the same monsters in my life. I am not delusional in that sense.

So what do we do to deal with the question of purpose? How can we act our selves in ways that create not just livable lives, but cherishable ones? I do think pleasure is an important aspect of such a life. Though hedonism often sinks under accusations of irresponsibility and lack-of-awareness of "real" conditions, how can we re-establish pleasure as a means of infusing our lives with meaning? We want to be happy, we want good things to happen all the time, we want to live. But what does it mean in terms of daily life? How do we order our lives so that we can do what we want?

A lot of times, people addressing these questions seem to revert to an idealization of childhood. Ideas of childhood innocence, of living in the moment, therefore, seem always just out of reach for adults -- something once had, but lost in the process of growing up. Where did it go? How do we regain it? Is it possible? And why, after all, is childhood such an ideal state? From where comes the pleasure? Does it indeed exist or is it a figment of the adult imagination, burdened after so long by stress and work?

      >> 1:14 PM

Tuesday, May 22, 2001

E-toes dot com.

It's amazing how much I can get done as long as I take on tasks in small chunks. I wasn't going to do any of my errands today after lunch because it all just seemed too much. But then I did one -- figured out how to take care of my speeding ticket from a few weeks ago -- that sort of expanded into another (getting a money order from the post office) and then I was just on a roll so I went ahead and returned some items at a store, picked up some others. Which is all just to say that after lunch I was feeling lazy and decided not to do anything, but instead did stuff. Yes.

I hung out with my friend Elizabeth at her work place for lunch (3 hours). We played Rock and Roll Jeopardy on-line. I wasn't much help to The Repository of All Things Music, but it was still fun.

I need to settle down with some some Milton after dinner before the season finale of Buffy.

      >> 4:05 PM

Compare and contrast: [Bush Returns to Yale, but Welcome Is Not All Warm] and [Commencements: At Yale, Senator Clinton Encourages Public Service].

Started summer class today. It's a large class, larger than I'd hoped -- some twenty students. And only a couple of other graduate students, one who might not return if she cannot come to an agreement with her workplace about starting her workday late. But oh well. It'll give me something to do. Structure to days that would otherwise lie limp and lazy. It'll get me out of bed and onto campus where the library and my carrel await me, full of books and ideas.

Off to read now.

      >> 8:56 AM

Monday, May 21, 2001

[Far out.] I love optical illusions.

      >> 1:20 PM

The papers curl in the dampness. Covers of paperback books turn up. Soaking in the humidity.

I need to get my act together today. Try to do the laundry, return the paper-trays I bought (they don't stack), return videos, finish Living by Fiction, take notes on Paradise Lost (Books 3 and 9).

      >> 1:01 PM

Sunday, May 20, 2001

[Wilde] I just saw. Never knew quite what Oscar Wilde's story was. Now I have some idea. Will be reading Salome at some point this summer for comps. Some interesting personalities in the film, wonder how the people in Wilde's life appeared to himself. I thought the film definitely characterized the various people in certain ways, almost exaggerated in their cohesiveness.

      >> 10:53 PM

Oops. Just got an e-mail from the professor about my late paper. Not good to piss off thesis advisor. He just wanted me to turn in whatever I have on Monday. I should've e-mailed him or called to let him know I dropped it off around 5 pm on Friday. But it's always strange to send an e-mail saying -- "i just turned in my paper. ok." -- because it's kind of demanding, like -- "go pick it up and read it NOW." I figured he'd just pick it up next time he went to his office. But I guess I forgot that he wouldn't have known I had turned it in until he went to his office . . . and it's unlikely he would be hanging around his office on the weekend during break.

(Shy -- your [dad] bought the soundtrack to Moulin Rouge???????)

      >> 11:48 AM

So I haven't made much progress organizing papers and articles yet. I have thrown most of the stuff into crates, though. Now all that's sitting on the floor are my piles of library books that I need to read and return (after having them out for the last few months).

Thinking about how to organize my books and papers reminds me of the decision I had to make about a year ago. I was deciding between a graduate program in English and an MLS (library science) program. I decided on the English because I thought maybe I was romanticizing being a librarian because of Giles on [Buffy]. Plus, the MLS is essentially a professional development degree, meaning its purpose is very much to acquire the training for a job in a library somewhere. From what I could gather, the education in such a program is more practical than theoretical. Though I would've learned a lot about the organization of materials, of knowledge circulation and archiving, that stuff would've been more a survey of various methods and ideologies of cataloging, preserving materials, etc. than an exploration of those methods and ideologies. And that's more what I'm interested in -- studying the why of libraries in addition to the how.

. . .

Watched American History X last night. Fairly recommendable movie, in my opinion. Has a lot of shortcomings, but raises some provocative questions about the penal system, racism, and how the ideology of white supremacy works with adolescents and other disaffected-disenfranchised people. Kind of difficult to watch, though, because of its presentations of explicit racism. Ummm. That's about it.

      >> 11:29 AM

Saturday, May 19, 2001

And so begins the organizing and cleaning . . .

Spent four hours hunting for a bookcase and some organizing supplies (like a crate, magazine holder, and stackable trays). Put together the bookcase. Now I have two big ones. And I've already filled up the second one with books. Hmmmm. Maybe I need more than one?

Now I'm going to tackle the stacks of photocopied articles and essays that have nestled into my apartment around my desk, around the dining table, etc. -- near wherever I've worked on papers and readings this past year. Seems a waste to throw them out or simply recycle the paper. I'm going to do the impossible and sort through them, organize them somehow (probably by class), and file them away. I think I'll need some more file folders than I have, though.

It's nice to be in a clean apartment. So that's why I'm organizing instead of being lazy.

      >> 2:06 PM

Friday, May 18, 2001

Whew! Done! Although I ended up jettisoning Part Two, the interesting part of my paper. Ah well. It's done and turned in. Now I can look forward to other things. And [Memento]. I promised myself I could see the movie when I finished my paper.

Too bad it's summer now. It's like a sauna out there. At least the sun's here. Though of course that's why it's like a sauna out there. Guess I'm not in California anymore.

      >> 5:00 PM

[Theresa Hak Kyung Cha Archives]

I'm not sure I can stomach much more of Cha and Dictée. This time, I really am turning in the paper today. Too bad it's not going to be anything like what it should be if I could write. Grrrrr.

      >> 10:41 AM

Thursday, May 17, 2001

From my friend [Eric]: [AIDS in Africa: A Health Spotlight Special Report].

The page is part of PBS's Online NewsHour. It contains links to news stories (video and transcripts) about AIDS in Africa as well as information about what the US is (or isn't) doing, what the UN and Secretary General Kofi Annan have called for in response to the epidemic, and links to some important AIDS organizations and non-profit agencies.

      >> 3:57 PM

[Turn off the Internet]. Silly little site. If only it really worked, though. Imagine what that would mean . . .

Blogger pissing you off? Did that EBay seller never gave you your porn hip 80's Scooby Doo watch as promised? Angry that more webloggers link to Melanie Griffith than you? No problem. Just turn off the Internet. (But remember to press Alt-F4 if you get edgy and want it turned back on again.)

From [little. yellow. different.].

Remember the ALT-F4, though.

      >> 9:40 AM

I also considered writing to my first-year English teacher (from high school) yesterday. He was a curmudgeonly fellow. Very quirky and unafraid of teens. I fell in love with him (not in a romantic sense). I was even his student assistant the following year along with my friend Mike. The highlight for that "class" (we got credit-hours for being student assistants, though usually that entailed doing homework in the library) was making up reading quizzes for his classes. He would send us off to read a story that his students were supposed to read. Then we would ask simple questions to determine whether or not the students had read. We felt like we had so much power. Silly us. Once he had us write "impossible" questions. So being the math nerds we were, Mike and I came up with an unsolvable calculus problem for the reading quiz (I think it was on some Ray Bradbury story). Then I wrote it out in mirror-writing. Most of his students laughed. One girl cried. Oops.

But anyways, Mr. H. was fun. He also got me started on my off-and-on journal-writing kick. We had to keep a journal in his class. We could write anything and everything we wanted in our journals. But we weren't allowed to edit our writing (supposedly). We had to keep it all in spiral-bound notebooks. One thousand words a week (I often went way past that mark). I remember experimenting with handwriting styles in my journal (something I miss about writing by hand). I would find new kinds of pens and go hog-wild writing words in my journal just to write words with the pens. (I first found fountain pens that year.) In any case, Mr. H. also tried to get me to think more. And that's really what I liked about him. In a vague way, he was probably the one to introduce me to the world of ideas, to thinking as integral to living.

I didn't end up writing a letter to Mr. H. because I didn't know what to say. We were never very close, but he definitely started the juices flowing in my mind. And for that, I will never forget him.

      >> 9:26 AM

I dreamt that we were out of soda. We were in this strange house (really just one big room). And then suddenly we were having an outdoor picnic party. And we were running out of soda. I checked the fridge. I tried to calculate how many one-, two-, and three-liter bottles of soda would be good to restock for the next party. I also tried to figure out if we would have enough soda for the current party. Or would I have to get a pitcher of ice cold water (no ice for Beth)? Make sure to put a towel under the pitcher to keep the condensation from seeping a water ring into the table.

And there were fez-like hats, too.

Outside the dream world, I wrote a letter to my high school art teacher yesterday. I was in a nostalgic mood after reminding myself of her in an [earlier post]. She was an amazingly supportive teacher/friend. I was in touch with her through college, and I met up with her in NYC (keep in mind our high school is in California) the summer after my junior year in college. But after that meeting, she sort of drifted off. Or maybe I drifted off. But in any case, I seem to remember sending her a letter to which she never replied. Of course, being the snivelling paranoid freak I am, I considered her non-reply an indication that she no longer wanted to associate with me. Maybe she didn't like my earring? Maybe she could tell I am gay and she was not okay with it? In any case, I speculated much about it, but really have no evidence for any of that. So I wrote her a letter yesterday, catching her up on my current situation. When I saw her in NYC, she pointed out the water towers on buildings. Since then, I have never been able to wander the streets of the city without noticing the omnipresence of those things, even though before I never consciously noted their existence. She's a very observant one.

In high school, she encouraged me to explore art. I needed that encouragement and support because my parents were adamantly against my taking any interest in art, though they knew I drew much and often in my spare time. Freshman year of high school, they convinced me to take auto shop as an elective instead of art. That was certainly a mistake since I learned virtually nothing in that class except how to use a crowbar to smash windshields (and that windshields often have shatter-proof glass so it's really hard to break it all to pieces). Plus, I ended up with a B in the class. No great loss since grades and GPA were never top on my list, especially ironic since my parents have always been ultra-concerned about grades, and their intervention/interference into my academic career only created a blip in my record. They should've learned then (actually, even before, but that's a story for another time). But they still continued to insist on the directin of my academic life into college.

Anyways, the art teacher. Yes. She really went to bat for me on many occasions. I finally got to take art in my sophomore year. We quickly developed a bond. She would talk to me about art and artists and art history. I think she was happy that I was interested not just in doodling, as many art students were taking art as an "easy" class, but really in exploring art as a life, as a "discipline." She even went so far as to make an appeal to my parents to convince them I should take AP studio art the following year. I had told them I was unsure whether or not I would be taking art again because my parents were severely displeased. She took it upon herself to write a long letter and pull together myriad materials concerning art's importance in people's lives. She sent this package to my parents. And even though it didn't necessarily convince my parents that I wasn't wasting my time taking art, it gave me the needed confidence to explore art despite their disapproval. My art teacher definitely helped me realize what it means to figure out what's important in life and why.

      >> 8:44 AM

Wednesday, May 16, 2001

In my mind is a deep sea. Everything I encounter -- ideas, images, thoughts, experiences -- goes into this sea, sinking or floating as befits the buoyancy of the particular object. As I read something new, I can see the words on the page diving into this sea, sometimes re-emerging, bobbing up and down. I try to keep things on the surface where I can see them, glistening wetness in the light. But inevitably, they all sink. Sometimes I look down into the depths and I see the things refracted through the water.

Visited the [The Audre Lorde Project] web site tonight.

      >> 9:00 PM

The apartment building shook last night during [Buffy]. Thunder and lightning, rain and wind. Enough to shake and chill one to the bones. How did Willow get to be such a strong Wiccan?

yes i've just spent myself making sure you'll be ok
autumn leaves die drowning and my legs are walking away with me
and i've been hurting myself, i guess i'm really thinking about me

I almost bought REM's new album Reveal at the store yesterday. But after listening to some tracks, I decided it was a little too melancholy for my current mood. I need something peppy, upbeat. Or at least more melodramatic and vocally emotive. So I bought Annie Lennox's Medusa instead. Not too impressed, unfortunately. (Just wondering now if the title of REM's new album has anything to do with this bit of [gossip] about lead singer Michael Stipe.)

will i forgive myself if i can't help you anymore

Talked to a [few] [friends] [on] [the] [phone] these past few days (okay, so many of them don't have personal web pages -- that's what metonymy is for, yes?). I'd forgotten how nice it is to be in touch with people. Seems I'm always in a state of non-communication. Inertia keeps me from reaching out, making calls, etc. And then I become sad that no one ever calls me. It's a vicious cycle.

i'm wearing out holes in my shoes, guess it's really giving me the blues
i tried to write you a letter, i even tried to call your house but
you just won't hear me, you just keep running away

I want to be a word cruncher, a word-smith. Someone who writes.

i guess the truth is not as cruel as the words you cooped up inside
and so i'm thinking of letting go, and there you to, there you go go go

Once in elementary school, we had an assignment to write stories as a group. Each person in a group would start writing a story on a sheet of paper. After five minutes, the teacher would call time and we'd pass our papers to someone else in the group. Then for the next seven minutes, we would read what was on the page and continue the story. After time was up, we would pass the papers again, read for a few minutes, and write for five more.

tearing around loud in the phone
telling your freinds i treat you wrong
talking to me, how i keep you whole, but then you're
making up shit, no sense at all

In high school, my art teacher told me my work reminded her of [Mark Chagall's] paintings. A few years later, I stood in front of [The Metropolitan Opera] at [The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts] in New York City, facing Marc Chagall's giant murals hanging in the lobby of The Met, behind large windows open to the world.

am i still mourning the loss of what you never were to me
and never will be, and never will be
and will you ever be the lover that my hope for you became
why do i think i could change you, is my arrogance to blame?

[Lightning] is quick and deadly. Electricity flashing through the air, balancing positive and negative.

i'm letting go, i'm letting go, i'm letting all just fade away
let it go, let it go, let it go

[The Tin Man] certainly wins points in my book for being one of the most personally revealing bloggers out there. I have a lot of vague concerns with calls for privacy, arguments about privacy as a right. Because sometimes, I think that being more open, talkative, explicit about some "private" things in our lives helps to change their paralyzing hold on us. And yet, I realize how idealistic that all is. Bring it out all into the open, act like you're not ashamed, and things will be better. But what about the consequences? What about prejudices and entrenched beliefs that bring about these feelings in the first place? Demystification and simple revelation is no panacea in and of itself. (Though surely it must be a part of change.)

(btw, previous post not an attempted poem, but a pair of lists, ideas/images crossing my mind. though i guess it does read like bad poetry, too.)

      >> 10:40 AM

Tuesday, May 15, 2001

Condensation cools wetness
Striving for a sense of center
But the slightest sigh
Or breeze blowing suddenly
Upsets the balance

Instability cries sliding
Backward like crackling
Leaves crushed delicately
Into earthy earthliness
Broken pieces framed

      >> 2:09 PM

Just picked up Anne Fadiman's The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures and Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves by Zampanò. The first book is the text for Carolina's [Summer Reading Program] for incoming first-year and transfer students. I agreed to use the book in my composition course in the fall. In return, a free copy. Woo hoo. The second book is one I've been meaning to pick up for awhile. It looks interesting. A "haunted" text, the kind of book that is very concerned with the visuality and materiality of words. I don't know when I'll get to it, but at least now I have it around.

Had breakfast at Cafe Trio. The waiter was very friendly. He asked me if I am a DJ. Don't know if it was just to make conversation. He said my bag ([Björk] bag!) looks like a DJ's bag. He said I look very familiar. I said I go to Trio every once in awhile. But he said no, I was more familiar than that. So I said hmmm, nope, I don't think so. And he kept talking to me every time he came around to my table. (There weren't that many people in the restaurant.) There were all these kids across the street having a picnic lunch. The waiter said it was probably Twin Day -- when all the school-age twins in the Triangle Area gather for food and fun. Don't know if that's really the case, though.

      >> 11:00 AM

Monday, May 14, 2001

I love tables. I love figuring out where the bugs in my html code are. Not that it's such a complicated layout. But what a thrill of victory every time I fix some annoying little mistake (and in just a few minutes, too!). (There was an extra space between posts in the same day. Then I moved the blogger tags outside the <tr> tags for the table row and voilá!)

Had some Joe Juice today. Yummy. Went to this place called [Cup A Joe] in Raleigh with Joe. Nice, relaxed atmosphere, though perhaps a little smoky (despite the smoking/non-smoking space division). The Joe Juice there is a coffee smoothie. Slurp. Love that Joe Juice.

There was a Nice Price Books used book store next door. I picked up [Jessica Hagedorn's] Dogeaters. Been meaning to read it for a few years. Will try to get to it this summer, along with the hundreds of other books I have waiting in ambush.

I did not enjoy driving to and from Raleigh, though. The people here drive too fast for my tastes. I was going 65-70 mph in the right lane of the highway and people were zooming past me (after flying up to tailgate me impatiently) going at least 80 mph. Sheesh. What's the hurry? What a turnaround, though, for me. I used to be a road-rage kinda driver, always impatient at people driving less than 75 mph. I guess I am a little more comfortable with just being these days, rather than trying to reach a goal all the time . . .

I must say I [love] [evhead] and all the work he does on this thing called [Blogger].

      >> 5:46 PM

[Justices Rule Against Medical Marijuana]

It's a pity that marijuana is such a straw-man drug for legislators intent on showing their strong stance against illegal drugs. From the article: "There is no definitive science that the drug works, or works better than conventional, legal alternatives." But what is the definitive science that proves marijuana is more harmful than legal alternatives? I don't think I've ever really read anything that would indicate its great harmfulness . . .

      >> 10:22 AM

The baby's back!

Went to a used book store yesterday and bought a handful of books. It's amazing browsing in a large used book store. You never know what might be there on the shelf, where you might find it (since the books are never arranged completely in alphabetical order), etc. I bought a book by Annie Dillard called Living by Fiction which is proving useful in thinking about the formal qualities of Cha's writings.

When I came back from driving around aimlessly yesterday, I turned on the tv to some WWF. It's really a shame that the arena in which they play out their fantasies of good and evil consistently re-entrench racially and nationally defined stereotypes. While it is "good" that there are now Asian wrestlers (representation and visibility as opposed to outright invisibility in media and the public sphere), they are mocked as Asian wrestlers. The commentators draw on the whole range of Orientalist language about Asians: inscrutable, Confucian, spies, nationalists, etc. They are supposed to be Japanese, fighting for Japanese pride, country, emperor. And why isn't the all-American blond-haired, blue-eyed wrestler ever questioned about his patriotism, anyways? But it's crazy how the only images of people of Asian descent have to be cast as Asian foreigners rather than Asian Americans, something the Asian American communities have to face every day . . .

      >> 10:13 AM

Sunday, May 13, 2001

[Douglas Adams, Author of 'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy,' Dies at 49]

"Douglas Adams, whose cult science fiction comedy The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy drew millions of fans and spawned a mini-industry, has died at age 49."

      >> 12:50 PM

I miss being able to publish at the slightest whim . . .

(Added 1:55:32 PM:)

I feel lost, adrift. Not just because [Blogger] is paralyzed. Just in general. I've been sitting here since I got up late this morning. The counter on my dial-up connection dialog box says I've been on-line for three hours now. And what have I been doing? Trying to publish my blogs intermittently, getting the same error message every time. Pitiful, really.

I just popped in Mariah Carey's version of "Without You" because it was running through my head. Can't live if living is without you. It sounds so pathetic. But taking the "you" multiply and abstractly, that's how I think we all are. Can't live without a sense of purpose. Can't live if living is without something to do. I often wonder what life would've been like in another time and place -- one in which daily concerns literally were about survival: finding, reaping, cultivating enough food; creating shelter for the cold, rain, wind, etc.; protecting oneself from a world not centered around human life, one that slowly but inexorably claims every living thing as its own, recycling the stuff of life indiscriminately. This is not really nostalgia for a lost time, though it's clear such a yearning is always present in the modern world. Think, for example, of this country's obsession with Survivor.

What interests me is how different such a life would've meant for how we relate to others, the world, ourselves. I guess this question is one that many people have pondered in describing modernism, industrialization, the move from subsistence living to this other kind of life -- this life full of contradictions, needs, feelings of disconnection and loss of direction. I can sort of understand how some people are attracted to movements / cults that promise a return to the basics of life, the nurturing of a material body over all other concerns.

But there is no going back, really. Knowing this doesn't help with a gnawing sense of emptiness, though. What do we do to fill the void? No I can't forget this evening nor your face as you were leaving. Call me a hopeless romantic, but I still think love is one of the most important safeguards against a total spiral into existential angst. I need to return to the paper I wrote a few months ago on Lawrence Chua's Gold by the Inch because I think I was really trying to figure out how love and desire can be an effective force in reclaiming a sense of humanity and purpose in an increasingly dehumanizing post-industrial, global capitalism. It's an argument I think Chua flirts with, but is not quite able to make in the novel because we have so much baggage tied to ideas and ideals of love, complications with sex and money.

Fetish. It's a concept I would love to study more, in all its incarnations in major philosophical and theoretical movements since the nineteenth century. At its most basic, I think the idea of the fetish is of displacement and erasure, the inability to make direct connections to things themselves (what is real, after all?) and the obfuscation of the materiality of things. The Freudian fetish: displacement of access to Mother (in case of Man). The Marxist fetish: erasure of material conditions of the commodity in the abstract circulation of currency. And Saussurean-derived linguistics/semiotics/film theory: erasure / disappearing of words (verbal and written) and images from consideration in the use of language and film. Hmmmm. Perhaps I've found a dissertation topic?

I miss my Joe. I hope he comes back this evening rather than tomorrow. This relationship has been so important in my life. It has given me new ways of seeing things, a better sense of the questions that plague me (though the answers, as yet, remain elusive), and a sense of joy that I never knew before. Sure, there have also been the most gut-wrenchingly painful moments in my life. But in some ways, those times, too, were new, plumbing depths of passion and emotions I always thought I didn't have. I always felt affect-less, disconnected from what other people seemed to feel. A robot. The power of this relationship, then, has something to do with intense intimacy, with an engagement and inter-dependence that is more than "getting to know each other," but really becoming a part of each other's lives, thoughts, feelings.

      >> 11:42 AM

Saturday, May 12, 2001

Watching Andrew Sullivan on C-SPAN now. Speaking on "The Politics of Homosexuality" for some sort of "Queer Awareness" program at Stanford, CA. Sullivan aggravates me. He's against so much critical political, social, and legal work against discrimination against homosexuals. Someone just asked him a question about what sort of work he imagines as productive in combatting prejudice, hate, etc. against gays. And that's what's so off-the-wall about his politics. He thinks we can battle these enormous social, cultural, institutional forces simply by personally standing up, being out, and just challenging discriminators. And I think that kind of politics really shows how privileged his life has been, how little he can imagine the real effects of discrimination and violence on gays. He is completely oblivious of how heterosexism and homophobia erase (at least make difficult) possibilities of simply standing up for your "rights" as they are already defended in the Constitution. For example, if you're a teenager in an isolated area of the country, you can't very well just say, "mom and dad i'm gay deal with it." He's so frustrating! ARGH!!!

      >> 8:10 PM

Strange how unburdened I feel today, despite the fact that I still have to finish the dreaded last paper. I guess the reprieve helps. Still, I have to remain diligent and not let these next few days go by without any progress.

Spent a lot of the day wandering around aimlessly. Boyfriend gone home for the weekend for Mother's Day. All alone.

      >> 5:55 PM

Friday, May 11, 2001

Saw The Forsaken last night with Patrick and Nick. Took us a bit to find the movie theater hidden behind newly planted trees. We were almost the only people in the theater -- one person came in at the last minute and sat at the very back of the theater. Very creepy.

The movie was quite disturbing. I don't know why I keep going to these teen horror flicks expecting something revolutionary. There were many gratuitous shots of women's breasts. Lots of blood. Angry young men railing against "bitches" constantly. Definitely a macho pissing contest of sorts.

One aspect of the movie that could have been really interesting was the retelling of the vampire myth. The origin story wasn't that stunning, but the recasting of vampirism as a virus-infection could have turned into an informative examination of the psychological impact of infectious diseases, public health issues, etc. The movie explicitly relates the vampire virus with HIV, too, by proposing the "cocktail drugs" that reduce viral load of HIV as effective (in some cases) in reducing the effects of the vampire virus in turning a human into a feeder / vampire. But in some ways, given the simplistic relating of HIV and vampirism, the idea also seems to turn AIDS and PWA (people with AIDS) into a kind of embodied evil, a bad thing that happens to bad people.

      >> 7:07 PM

Wednesday, May 09, 2001

[What I've been staring at for the last four days.]

      >> 7:59 PM

I think I've bitten off more than I can chew. Again. As always. Will I never learn? I guess it's my penchant for review-type papers, surveying critical work and figuring out what it all means. But then I become paralyzed as I read, realizing how little I know about the topics, theories, debates, etc. How do people know so much? How can people make claims about the state of disciplines, etc.? Ay ay ay. Ah well. I've finally started writing some stuff down for this paper. And come hell or highwater (is that one word or two?), I will turn it in within twenty-four hours (though I had told the professor I would have it done by this afternoon). Anyways, back to work.

      >> 11:42 AM

Tuesday, May 08, 2001

Hee hee . . .


      >> 1:19 PM

. . . and the paper never ends . . .

      >> 6:57 AM

Monday, May 07, 2001

I don't know why I am such an incorrigible procrastinator. Down to the last minute so I can calculate how many words I have to write per minute to finish the (or write the entire) paper kind of procastinator. That would be twenty words a minute for the next four hours. Then I would have time to proofread, format, print out, and drive the paper over to the professor's office by 8 am. Of course, this means no sleep. (And in the end, I'll probably turn it in late anyways.)

I did turn in earlier today the second of my papers. And what do I get by e-mail just now? A message from the professor indicating that she had to assign us temporary incompletes because she had to turn in grades today even though she had told us the papers were due later. Someone must have convinced her that the deadline for the paper was after today. She's kind of forgetful like that. I don't know why she doesn't write down things like due dates. Though that does make it easier on us students. If I had only known, though, I could've worked on that paper last and finished this other paper first. Oh well.

And the lesson I should learn (but never seem to be able to learn) from all this? Don't leave papers off to the last minute. Guess I'm still working on it and have a few more years to perfect it.

Got a care package in the mail today from my mom. Some medicine, vitamins, and lots of yummy food stuffs like green tea mochi, strawberry puffs, and beef jerky. Mmmmm. . . .

      >> 11:52 PM

Saturday, May 05, 2001

[Letter] by Global AIDS Alliance co-directors.

Had a nice dinner at The Weathervane restaurant in A Southern Season in Chapel Hill. They have delicious food there, though quite expensive. E and her parents came in while I was there J and J. Funny, because last time I was at the restaurant was with E. When I went in last night, I scanned the outdoor garden seating area to see if she were there. She wasn't, but not more than a quarter of an hour later, she walked in.

I think I'm all written out. Took me forever to squeeze out ten pages for the first paper I have due. Turned it in about two and a half hours ago. Not quite what I would've liked it to be, but at least I think it's coherent enough. The big paper still left -- twenty pages -- and an annotated bibliography. Take a deep breath. Almost done. Two more solid days of work . . .

      >> 8:36 PM

Bloggity blog blog. Forgot to mention Wednesday night was a gathering at professor's house to present paper topics to class. I wasn't very coherent in explaining things (partly because I still don't know what my paper is really about). It felt like forever when I was presenting. I even asked how long these things were supposed to be about ten minutes after I started talking. But then they let me off the hook.

      >> 6:11 PM

Thursday, May 03, 2001

[This article] via [halo33.com]. Yum. Too bad I missed the kiss. And I am glad that Dawson's Creek is "dealing" with teen gay sexuality, even if its acceptance by the WB, television execs, etc. might be an interest in the prurient or provocative. I am glad that "positive" (that is, non-essentializingly condemnatory) representations of non-heterosexist sexualities are possible on television now. Even if those representations are problematic in some ways. Because what we do in this world always serves multiple, even divergent, purposes for different people. And we shouldn't let the possiblity of the cooptation of our efforts stymie our political commitments for a [better world].

On Kerr Smith's comments on not playing into "stereotypes" in his role: I find myself struggling with the duality of being gay (meaning effeminate, sensitive, etc.) and normal (meaning macho, deep-voiced, physical, etc.) all the time, even as I understand that such a binarism is artificial. (Sometimes I flame deliberately. Sometimes I wear nail polish. Sometimes I act the queen. Sometimes.) And so I am glad that Dawson's Creek and other shows try to present straight-acting gays, even as I decry the extolling of a masculinist code of behavior for men. (Perhaps the example of Will and Grace is appropriate here as destabilizing the normalization of gays by presenting the more flamboyant Jack in conjunction with the more staid Will.)

And now back to the regularly scheduled programming of paper-writing . . .

      >> 8:05 PM

[Blast from the past.] Got an e-mail today from the first on-line friend I made back in 1994 (senior year of high school for me). We had a pretty close, daily e-mail correspondence for about two years. We were both just coming out, just coming to incorporate a gay identity into our lives. I still remember the day Ruston wrote me an e-mail telling me he is gay. We had been writing each other for at least a couple of months by then, and I could sense the nervousness in the message, his fear that I might reject him for his sexuality. And I pondered his message for minutes, its presence on the computer screen an incredibly visceral validation of an emerging acceptance of my own sexuality in conflict with fears of rejection, discovery. But it was not difficult for me to reply to his message, a measure of relief coursing through my body at being able to tell someone, even as I watched the door anxiously, afraid someone in my family might come in at any moment to see those words on the screen: "I'm gay, too."

After his move from Utah to the City of Angels, however, our correspondence trailed off. (He e-mailed me from his job in Utah -- in LA he didn't have the same access right away.) Over the last four or five years, we've intermittently kept in touch. I try to send him a card every year. I want to hold on to our friendship because it really gave me hope when I was most frightened about what being gay meant. And I'm particularly glad he e-mailed me now, when the craziness of life is driving me batty (see [previous entry]).

      >> 7:35 PM

Wednesday, May 02, 2001

So many things in this world make me want to run away and become a hermit. Reading about the Christian conservative movement's efforts to "prevent" kids from becoming gay in Sharon Lerner's article, [Straightness 101] is just appalling. I can't even begin to understand the argument: promoting tolerance of homosexuality is a strike against "our" free speech and right to understand homosexuality as a sin. It just goes to show that there is not a baseline understanding of love and acceptance for others in this wonderful country/world of ours. How can these people actively insist that protecting gay youth (and others) from discrimination, taunting, and outright VIOLENCE is a bad thing? And on top of that, my friend M e-mailed me a newspaper article about the work of the Christian Coalition in Washington (the state) to defeat a bill advocating school policies against discrimination, harrassment, and bullying. Their argument? Anti-discrimination policies are pro-gay and imply that it's wrong to beat up or harrass deviants (homosexuals). Hard to believe, but that's what they believe. Here's the article on-line: [Anti-bullying Vote Blocked in Olympia].

      >> 9:28 AM

Tuesday, May 01, 2001

[To TORES: I love you!] Sappy, saccharine, and all. When is any profession of love not? What is so hokey about love? This, and what we think about relationships more generally, all covered in a tacky gauze; the truly, staunchly, total PERSON is free of love's foolishness? I want to know why we are so defensive about being loving people. But so much cultural weight pushing us away from the raw expressions of love, away from being open vulnerable?

      >> 3:32 PM

As always, I'm finding more and more things to read as paper deadlines approach. I dread sitting down to write. So much material out there to read. Might as well continue reading, learning, finding more writers to admire. But the writing. Write. Right. Time to use those idea-generating devices from rhetoric/composition class.

[Buffy] tonight (and Angel). There's a solid two hours out of possible work-time. Not that I've been working all day or that I would have the stamina to work so long in the evening. I should think of the two hours as another way to massage my brain. Right.

So warm today, bordering on too hot now, though nothing like what it'll be soon and for the next few months as hot and humid summer rolls in to smother us. Bleah. I don't like leather seats in cars. I'm glad my mom gave me her car, but I wish she weren't a luxury car aficionado. I really don't need all the fancy gadgets and I really don't need the leather. Fast to get hot and stay hot. Slippery, too, so that I can't put things on the seat without them falling off. And the feel of the stuff -- just not what I want to sink into as I drive. I'm more of the soft, fuzzy type.

Gotta think of what to make for dinner. Haven't cooked in weeks. J has been playing house-husband these last couple of weeks, cooking often. Rather than go out tonight, I think I will try to make something (need to go to store first) as yet another procrastinating tactic. Or a relaxing task. Or a shift in gear. That's always a good thing -- breaking the monotony of reading/writing/thinking on a specific idea for a paper. Not that I've thrown myself into that work quite yet.

      >> 3:17 PM