Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Let's tear down the walls, shall we, and start anew? Because now is as good a time as any to redraw the lines around who we are, what we do, how we live.

      >> 7:12 PM

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

It's been such a discombobulating semester that I never had a chance to note the end of my residency saga:

October 15, 2002
Dear Paul:
RE: Fall 2002 Residence Application
The Graduate School has carefully reviewed your Residence Status Application. Based upon this information we have determined that you are eligible for in-state tuition status, effective with the above referenced term.
Your Residence Status Application is term-specific; this classification is effective only if you enroll for the term specified. If you do not enroll for that term, but instead enroll for an earlier or later term, you will need to resubmit your application for the term in which you actually enroll. In addition, this decision applies only to Graduate School enrollment; enrollment through another UNC-CH admissions office requires residency review by that office. Failure to reapply under these circumstances will cause you to be classified as a nonresident for tuition purposes.
If you have a financial aid application pending in the Office of Scholarships and Student Aid it will be necessary for you to contact that office to inform them of your change of status.
Sincerely yours,
Monique Fowlkes,
Residency Review Coordinator
cc: ENGL-English

Woo hoo! I'm officially a North Carolina resident (for tuition purposes) now. Something about this letter makes me think they thought I was applying to the Graduate School as a new student, though. Doesn't "enroll" mean start taking classes? Wouldn't "register" be the term for continuing to take classes? I hope I'm wrong or that it won't cause a problem somehow.


      >> 7:25 AM

Monday, November 25, 2002

Disturbed. Fell asleep last night shortly after the opening sequence of The Wizard of Oz on the WB. Woke up in the wee hours of the morning and watched some [Destinos] -- the Spanish language program as telenovela -- on PBS. In this episode, the woman goes in search of some guy I think she was writing, only to find that he's been dead for awhile. Ghosts, mysteries, and eeriness.

I don't think I ever watched the Destinos program in high school Spanish, though I think my brother did.

Lately I've been thinking about how I finally seem to understand things that everyone else seemed to understand in high school. Things ranging from the news media to politics to personal relationships. I can't emphasize how much the Internet changed my life at the end of high school by giving me access to interpersonal communication. I wasn't just shy in high school; I was unable to understand how people got along socially. I still don't, but I think I'm at least beginning to understand what I'm not understanding, if that makes any sense.

Thoughts are fleeing my mind as soon as they emerge.

I am but an imposter, nodding my way to acceptance.

It's alternately amusing and disheartening when I realize that I am mass marketing's ultimate dupe. Is it any better that I realize I'm being seduced into buying things I don't need or even want? Walking through large stores, I gravitate towards displays with beautiful men hawking clothing (usually clad in as little as possible) or other items. I laugh at the large signs proclaiming NEW and SALE, even as I think about how I'll save buying these shiny new things. I look through my cd collection and see all these pop albums that I never listen to anymore. I think about all the "singles" that caught my attention on the radio and how the albums offer little of substance beyond the shiny exterior. Someone save me from this life.

      >> 9:25 PM

<deleted entry> (now you'll never know)

      >> 4:23 PM

[Turkish dance-pop from 1997.] Gets you off your ass.

      >> 6:36 AM

Saturday, November 23, 2002

So yay. Apparently [Erasure] will be releasing a new album of covers called Other People's Songs at the end of January. One of the songs they've chosen is the Buggles's "Video Killed the Radio Star." Here's their commentary on it:

Vince:That was me. I knew that Andy wouldn't like to sing this one, so I asked my brother Mick to get the computer to sing it for us. Which is what we did, the computer sings it and Andy does backing vocals. It's the perfect pop song, thats the reason I chose it. I think that it's pop at its poppiest and true-est and most sincere... and yet insincere at the same time.
Andy: . . . with the Buggles I thought, 'You can't sing that, there's nothing to grab on to!'. But now I feel quite nostalgic towards it, because I like the little robot voice singing it, because its really sad. (my emphasis)

I can't wait to hear the sad singing computer. :/

      >> 6:54 AM

[WebMD] is a godsend for us hypochondriacs.

      >> 6:31 AM

Thursday, November 21, 2002

I think I am not terribly fond of teaching writing. But I have some ideas about how to make it better. I need to introduce more substance into my classes. Beyond dealing with writing as communication, writing styles, revising strategies, I am going to start addressing content through readings and discussions on those readings. Technically, I'm not supposed to assign reading for this class. But it doesn't make much sense to me to leave it out altogether. Having students do their own research but not giving them shared reading to mull over makes it difficult for them to understand what they should be getting from their research.

      >> 9:18 PM

Subject line of first spam mail to pop into my inbox this morning: GROW RICH BY TEACHING.

Leaving campus yesterday was a chore because there was some sort of event. As I neared my parking lot on the far side of the football stadium, I encountered long lines of cars blocking the roads. Many of them were trying to get into the lots; each lot had a guard collecting money (I guess) from each entrant.

When I stepped into my apartment, I saw a large box on my table. I love getting packages, so I was very excited. The package was addressed to me at my apartment, but the return address was my department address on campus, all typed up neatly on a label. Uh oh. I was worried for a little bit, noticing that the postal service had marked the package as coming from Houston -- I don't know anyone in Houston -- and my thoughts turned paranoiacally to mail bombs or biological/chemical warfare. Sign of the times, I guess. But sense returned and I figured it must be from someone on-line. (Yes, not all people on-line are "safe" or "sane.") So I opened the box and found a whole set of duck bath accessories! Towel set, floating rubber ducky, a large bath spout duck cover (you have to see it), and a duck rug.

So here's the eep. They all come from [Tortoise], the enigmatic, friendly almost-sole commenter in my guestbook about whom I know next-to-nothing. (THANKS FOR ALL THE GIFTS!) I don't know if I can even accept these gifts. Are there Miss Manners rules about accepting gifts from people on-line you've never really "talked" to, even if you've had brief exchanges in guestbooks and comments pages? I mean, this is a lot of stuff. This is, like, more than a birthday present. This isn't just a rubber ducky, a gift I would readily accept from any stranger. This is overly kind. And I'll have to admit, a little creepy. Gift giving is a very complicated cultural matter, and this kind of sort-of anonymous exchange suggests all sorts of weird transgressions and stuff. Errr.

      >> 4:53 AM

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Asian American Studies, and Ethnic Studies of which it is a part, focuses on race as its primary unit for analysis. Asian American Studies, through a comparative approach, disrupts the common black-white definition of race so common today, especially east of California. In this and many other ways, Asian American Studies illuminates the whole of American History and contemporary American experience. But Asian American Studies must also account for other positions, including those of gender, class and sexuality. In other words, Asian American Studies should exist on university/college campuses regardless of the number of students on that campus. ([Why Establish Asian American Studies?])

The reason I haven't been more active in movements towards the institutionalization of Asian American Studies in the past (at Yale or here at UNC) is because I have a very ambivalent relationship to "Asian America" and the social and cultural organizations subsumed under that term. And yet, as I put together my course of study and specialization as a PhD candidate, I find myself gravitating towards Asian American literature and the politics of Asian American Studies. While I'm also for strong Asian American student organizations, institutional support, cultural centers, etc., I'm not interested in feeling a sense of belonging in that way or a sense of community, really because I'm such a loner. (I suspect one reason why I'm here at UNC, in the South, is that I even need to feel isolated, special, different.) While I want to set aside simple calls for representation in the curricula, institutional support for Asian American students, and cultural organizations to disseminate and celebrate Asian American cultures, I also want to champion the intellectual work of Asian American Studies. I think there is something that is of immense importance for people who study race, culture, and sexuality in the analytic category of "Asian American." I especially think it incredibly short-sighted of people who deal with race in America who leave out any critical discussion on how Asians figure into the complex network of racial formations.

In any case, I'm still mulling over my exams reading list and this working group for the establishment of an Asian American Studies program here at UNC. For the former, I just met with one of my faculty advisors who was very supportive (adamant) about my focusing the list on Asian American movements and literatures. I can draw connections to other work as needed, but maintain the focus on those core texts. (Yay for shortened list!) As for the latter, I had a long discussion about ethnic studies with another faculty advisor yesterday. There's actually a talk here tomorrow by [Evelyn Hu-DeHart], director of [The Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America], on Chinese and blacks in 19th century Cuba. She'll also be at a brown bag lunch discussion on the possibility of ethnic studies at UNC. So this'll be a good chance for me to see what's out there, what's possible, and who else might have interesting ideas about this work. (As I mentioned before, and has been confirmed by my two faculty advisors, this guy who is spear-heading the working group right now doesn't have a very good idea of what Asian American Studies can or should do. He's really more interested in creating a sense of Asian American community here on campus through a program that would probably be very limited in scope, centered on celebrating the achievements of Asian Americans in history. In other words, an old-school multicultural place-at-the-table kind of understanding of Asian American Studies.)

I think in general I am more for the establishment of some sort of comparative ethnic studies program. At Yale while I was an undie, students worked to create a program in [Ethnicity, Race, and Migration] which I think is a smart move in rethinking the general field of ethnic studies. Of course, it loses its Americanist focus and since it exists in a school without established Asian American Studies or Latina/o Studies, does not necessarily provide more courses dealing with Asian Americans or latinos. But as a comparative program, I think it does something important in drawing connections across borders as well as across ethnicities and races.

And I'm also ambivalent because I have this anti-identitarian stance on cultural and social politics. Like, I see identity categories as being a very problematic basis for organizing either political movements or disciplinary formations. But they still seem necessary. But problematic. I'm just confused.

Now I'm babbling. I should go home and get some dinner.

      >> 5:18 PM

I see a headline like this -- [Gay man kills woman in religious dispute] -- and I wonder why the world is so fucked up.

      >> 11:30 AM

Monday, November 18, 2002

I spent the better part of the early morning hours peering out from under the sheets at hourly intervals. It's been awhile since I've been unable to sleep, not just because of stress, though that is part of it, but also because of a lingering sense of malaise. I just didn't want to get out of bed this morning; I dragged out the process of getting up far beyond reasonable measures.

I suppose I'm depressed, in all senses of that word. My world has become constricted and muted. (Sometimes I think I am an old-fashioned existentialist. I crave intensity in life; I live mostly in a blasé state of numbness.)

But this evening has invigorated me. I am a mixture of extreme hubris and impossible self-denigration. I often have delusions of grandeur, but cannot accept that I am actually capable, let alone skilled. This evening has invigorated me as I have just left a meeting of a working group for Asian American Studies at UNC. (In other words, there is no such program here, but some people are interested in getting one into place.) I left the meeting feeling like I am actually perhaps one of the most knowledgeable people regarding Asian American Studies at UNC, of all faculty, staff, students, and whatever, even though I have taken only one course that could be considered a focus on the Asian American experience.

I'm a bit disappointed by the people in the group, especially by the person in charge of the group. I had met this guy last year, and I was going to talk to him more about the lack of Asian American Studies here, but he was so strange, so . . . pardon me here . . . uninteresting. He seems to be a dull, straight-laced Asian American representation sort of person. Someone who just wants to see courses taught on Asian Americans for the sake of representing Asian Americans (though I am that, too). Someone who doesn't see the possibilities of how Asian American Studies could be integral to studying America, racial politics, sexuality, etc.

      >> 7:27 PM

This semester is kicking my ass. It sucks.

      >> 9:00 AM

Saturday, November 16, 2002

I have no response. I have no response. I have not yet written a response paper I had due yesterday. Show me something and I have no response.

Just whatever. Whatever.

      >> 2:25 PM

Thursday, November 14, 2002

Gotta love college freshman. I'm showing my students how people put web pages on the Internet. I'm having them change their generic "This page is blank." school web page to say something more interesting. I'm a little disturbed that quite a few of them took the chance to mention hating particular classmates and/or wanting to kill themselves because they have too much work to do.

Ah. The world is your oyster. Too bad I'm allergic to shellfish.

      >> 4:18 PM

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

All of a sudden it is six pm already. Sometimes it's like I'm so speedy I travel at close to the speed of light and paradoxically that means I pass time slower than the rest of the world; from my perspective the world whizzes by in time. My god I'm butchering and probably radically interpreting incorrectly major theories of science. Sorry. I've been glaring at some fallout of the [Sokal hoax].

[Buffy] in a couple of hours. Maybe someday I will return to writing about that most hallowed television series (purportedly in its final season - boo). Oh. And what is up with Joss Whedon's new show Firefly and the presence/absence of Chinese? In this future that seems to be a syncretic culture of (American) English and Chinese (the characters often drop Chinese phrases), it's odd that everyone is still white (or black). Perhaps the rulers of the galaxy (the central alliance, i.e. the bad guys in the show) are all Chinese. (It seems that Chinese phrases function like the neologisms in Buffy.)

I need to brave the rain to check my mailbox. I also need to call my mom back. She's left a few voicemail messages these last couple of days asking if I'm OK and if I'm affected by the stormy weather. No tornadoes in the area, so far as I know.

Today I pulled together a [preliminary reading list] for my PhD exams. I still don't really know how I'm defining my areas of study. I just wanted to pull together books and work that interest me so I can talk to the faculty committee members soon. (Yes, I have issues with alphabetized lists.)

      >> 5:12 PM

[Raspberry Lemonade V8 Splash] is delicious and nutritious.

Yesterday I finally got the memo about my five-member written and oral exams committee. All five of my choices agreed to be on my committee. Yay. Now I have to pull together my exam reading list and talk to these people.

I've been noticing lately how much I slouch. Sometimes while sitting in class, I'll suddenly become aware that I am a roly poly pill bug thingy, curled up to protect myself from the world. My back is beginning to ache, or almost ache, from it all.

This is going to bother me no end. I swear I read something yesterday that reminded me of me. I can see the words on the page, the ellipses I would use to sharpen their relevance. And I was going to post them here. But I can't really remember what those words were nor where I read them. Grr.

The last couple of nights, when the temperature has been in the sixties and seventies, the apartment complex has turned on the boiler for the radiators. It's hot in my apartment.

I think I've been drinking too much coffee lately and my stomach is beginning to revolt again. A couple summers ago I had an unfortunate vomitting experience because I had worn down my stomach with too much coffee and stuff. I'm trying to prevent a reoccurrence with stomach medicine. I am a pill popper.

      >> 3:30 AM

Saturday, November 09, 2002

I've taken up residence on this moon made of cheese. Thankfully, it doesn't smell like cheese up here (cut or otherwise). The air is rather thin and stale, though. My neighbor is the kindly rabbit pounding away at his cakes. Drop on by for a visit. Watch out for the silly jumping cows.

I went to this talk titled "Girls of Memory in Spirited Away and Serial Experiments Lain," and as exciting as it sounds, it was really rather disappointing. The speaker, [Susan Napier], didn't do much interesting in her talk. She just pointed out certain scenes from the film and the television series. And then said, ooo, the main character girls figure a nostalgia in contemporary Japan. But for what? Of what? Why? The questions audience members asked were great though, all trying to get her to make some sort of argument or connection between these figures of nostalgia and something -- whether it was to gender expectations, historical periods, or whatever.

I also went to hear [Janet Halley] speak again. She's smart and very cute. I wish I weren't so intimidated by people; I should have chatted her up afterwards, especially since there we were, staring at each other, and she asked, "And you are? . . ." And in hindsight, of course there is something I wanted to talk to her about. She wants to claim herself as a gay man, and while this is clearly a rhetorical and argumentative strategy in thinking through how the law treats or can treat questions of gender and sexuality, it seems to raise the question of why specifically a gay man rather than some other queer figure (a lesbian, a drag queen or king, a bisexual person?).

Other than that, life here on the moon has been fine. I've given up the ghost; I no longer even aspire to doing work. As long as I can make it through the days without coming across as a complete idiot, I'm satisfied.

I want to watch movies all weekend. I saw Michelangelo Antonioni's L'Avventura yesterday. All I can say is, weird. Very much a narrative built on gaps, incoherencies, strange affective signals. Maybe later today, I will watch his Eclipse. (Antonioni is a director people often draw parallels to in discussing Tsai Ming-Liang and his films.)

Yesterday was depressive-manic day. The first half of the day I was incredibly depressed about school (again) and teaching (again). I felt completely inadequate and unintelligent. I just don't have any response to what I read or hear. It's as if I have no comprehension at all of these things. And that's why I have no response. A blankness. It's very disturbing when I recognize that I don't seem to think much. So that's why I was depressed. Then suddenly around 2 pm, I was on top of the world. I scared my officemate Gena with my suddenly animated and talkative persona. Then I went home and dragged Rob out for a drive. I was so awake and full of energy; I was not me.

      >> 9:39 AM

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

I've fallen off the face of the earth.

      >> 4:03 PM