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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.

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.

[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.

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.

[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.
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.

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.

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.

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.)

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

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.

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].

[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 . . .

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 . . .

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."

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.

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