Monday, March 31, 2003

Outside in the Pit, the social heart of campus, there is a table set up to catch passersby with the sign, "No War With Iraq." Directly across from that table is another, a hand-written message on a banner, "Support Our Troops." The people at the anti-war table glance periodically at the young woman sitting at the other table. She just stares at the top of her table in the bright but cold morning light.

I find it so hard to understand why agitating against the war is supposed to be so unpatriotic, such an act against "our boys" over there. Don't we all know too well the stories of war trauma, of soldiers coming back to the States changed forever? But then I read and see on television these interviews with people in the trenches who do seem, for all the death and pain, so committed to their work of military might. How do we deal with these things? ([Slander] thinks through some of these things more clearly.)

[Military Mirrors Working-Class America.]

Yesterday at the grocery store, as I swiped my credit card through the machine to pay for the week's groceries, the cashier asked, "Would you like to support our troops?" She was asking for a dollar donation; I would get to sign a piece of paper with an American flag brightly plastered on it. "Not today," I responded.

I was in the eighth grade during the first Gulf War. I remember in history class the teacher had us all write letters to random soldiers in the army. Over the course of the year, I exchanged at least three or four letters with Lisa Dockery, a lieutenant in the army. Our correspondence ended when she returned to Texas, her husband, and children.

[Sterilized Velcro]:

1. War is bad for our children.
2. According to Whitney Houston, the children are our future.
3. Therefore, war is bad for our future.

      >> 11:02 AM

Went to a benefit performance with the [Cuntry Kings] yesterday. It's refreshing to see people who are so overtly, passionately about revolution, even if what they say is sometimes a little hokey. They didn't provide particularly useful or insightful political critique in their work, but at least they were clear about their anti-war stance, about the connections between capitalism, oil, war. I wonder how they might've constructed some drag performances more in tune with critiquing the current political climate through the lens of trans-action, as they termed it. (Gender fuck as revolution . . . but how does it relate to dealing with the war?)

Saw a commercial for this film [Better Luck Tomorrow] yesterday. Looking it up today, I noticed that it's by the director of [Shopping for Fangs], a film I have been wanting to see, but can't find anywhere. (Whoops. Just bought it on-line.) Apparently, Toronto is the place to be for Asian/North American cultural productions. As much as I think it's important to reconfigure Asian/American Studies through diasporic, global frames, I wonder if the important work of situating Asians in America -- the United States and Canada in particular -- is being ignored as a result. Especially here in the South, there is not really any sense of how Asian/Americans have been a part of this country, how they have functioned as a group to define and constrain racial categories.

      >> 8:30 AM

Friday, March 28, 2003


      >> 10:48 AM

Thursday, March 27, 2003

I should go to literary readings more often. They remind me how much writing is important to me, a fact teaching first-year composition chips away at constantly. You see, writing is not just about thesis statements, clear and logical argumentation, topic sentences, organizational issues, and adequate supporting evidence. It's also about ideas, our engagement with the world, how we see the world, how we want the world to be.

Yesterday I heard Karen Tei Yamashita speak as part of the [Latina/o Culture(s) Speakers Series] and had dinner with her afterwards. It was great fun. She's quite wary of literary critics' interpretations of literature in general, but very smart and willing to take the confrontation of fiction writer and academic in a satirical light. We found out that we are both interested in Chang and Eng Bunker, the "original" Siamese twins. In fact, earlier in the day she had gone to UNC's library to look at the archives of documents about and from [Chang and Eng].

Tonight I heard Allan Gurganus speak about war, The Oldest Confederate Widow Tells All, politics today, and the importance of telling stories.

Someday, I, too, will write.

      >> 8:03 PM


      >> 11:24 AM

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Fun lights.

Sometimes it's scary at night.

      >> 6:32 AM

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

I'm not sure what to feel or think. Is there a right emotion for now? On the radio this morning, the dj talked about "psychology experts" who are reassuring the public that it is okay, even right, to feel anxious now. The dj mentioned that there are numerous web sites popping up now with tips on how to address your anxiety (about the coming war).

This message from UNC's chancellor today:

Dear Carolina community:
As you all know, an American-led invasion of Iraq appears imminent. If and when it occurs, it will affect all of us in the Carolina community. What should we do? Carolina has a proud tradition of rigorous inquiry, free expression and respect for others. In keeping with these values, we now should challenge ourselves to try to understand the implications of a war with Iraq, whatever they may be. Our responsibility as citizens requires us to inform ourselves well and explore the issue carefully -- beyond our first visceral reactions and beyond slogans, posters and bumper stickers.
We will have many opportunities to hear speakers of various viewpoints and to participate in dialogues about the war. One of the first will be an April 2nd debate organized by students with the Campus Y and moderated by members of the Dialectic and Philanthropic Societies. Watch the campuswide calendar (www.unc.edu/calendar) for information about this and other related events.
Starting now, I encourage each of you to do the following: Educate yourself. Participate in discussions and debates. Treat all with respect when they speak. And remember the members of the Carolina community who have been called away to military service.
The strength of Carolina's academic community will be measured in the weeks and months ahead by our ability to debate vigorously in an environment that respects all views. We will be tested. Let us be strong.
James Moeser

      >> 7:32 PM

[Hilarious Hamlet Essay Circulated in Teachers' Lounge]:

According to education expert Dr. Judith Berman-White, mercilessly mocking students behind their backs may seem unprofessional, but is a vital part of teaching.

      >> 7:29 PM

Monday, March 17, 2003

Am so incredibly behind in all my work. Conference this Friday-Saturday in lovely Asheville, NC. Presenting yet-to-be-written paper "Queer Manifestos." Heard this past week, too, that my other manifesto paper proposal, "Manifestos, Social Transformation, Women's Liberation," was accepted to a graduate student conference in Toronto, ON. Whee! Trying to figure out if I can make it up there (time off work, travel funding, airplane tickets, passport stuff, etc.). Also decided at the last minute to apply for a summer research stipend from the Center for the Study of the American South to do some research on Chang and Eng Bunker, the Siamese twins. Not sure if I can get my advisor to write me a letter on such late notice, though.

      >> 10:08 AM

Sunday, March 16, 2003

I think
I just want to
lie here on the couch
blinds drawn
as the trains whistle by
an occasional police car's siren
but mostly
just silence interrupted
cars passing

      >> 10:53 AM

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

[Computer Hits]:

One original idea for its use was to offer CD shoppers recommendations based on their favorite songs. But when executives at the company loaded every song in the Billboard Top 30 over the last five years into the program, they discovered that "lo and behold, they all had something in common," Ms. Reed said. What that something is, she added, is something that human beings cannot quite name but computer programs can recognize.

Hmmm. A little disturbing? So there is some sort of set of criteria for a pop hit, some combination of characteristics that are identifiable by the computer, though not necessarily understandable in its constituent parts by people? I know there are people (producers, musicians, etc.) out there who already consciously try to analyze pop music to "create" new hits. But is this computer program going too far?

      >> 9:48 AM

Monday, March 10, 2003

I still have problems with that whole self-naming thing: I'm gay. And I don't think it's exactly a problem of pride or shame. I'm entirely comfortable with being gay. I'd gladly march in the pride parade behind the rainbow flag; I volunteer for the school's LGBT center; I wear zipper shoes, for crying out loud. I just have a hard time saying the words to new acquaintances or people who don't seem to have gotten the memo yet.

Part of me also wants to resist the necessity of queer visibility -- the way gays and lesbians must be marked as different from "normal" heterosexuals. No heterosexual has to announce to new acquaintances, "I'm straight." I'm speaking in generalizations here, of course. And even then, such an utterance would have a different impetus, a different effect; it would be an assertion of correction or defense, perhaps (no no, I'm not gay . . . ). This fundamental distinction in who we know and how troubles me. We have to know. The self-naming as gay becomes the mode by which we queers can claim an identity.

I guess sometimes I am still much an accommodationist. While in theory I love in-your-face queer tactics, in my personal interactions with people, I can't bear to hurt or anger someone by revealing my sexuality. I'm still traumatized by that ur-coming-out experience, telling my parents. Even though I knew they would not be happy with my declaration, hearing the words from my dad ("I don't think so. I hope not.") and my mom ("You're not. What happened to you?") still caught me completely off-guard. I could feel the very foundations of their ideas about me suddenly shattered. In that moment, I became a monster that had devoured someone they once knew, and yet was still there in his form. I was something new and terrible, but uncannily familiar. It's a reaction I would just rather not see ever again. And so I avoid the situation as much as possible. What a wimp I am.

This is the most difficult thing about coming out, about having to come out repeatedly all throughout your life, even if you live as openly and flamboyantly as you can. It isn't so much feeling shame about being gay or being afraid of living out and open: it's not wanting to deal with that world-changing moment when you can see and feel in your interlocutor the crumbling of their understanding of the world, as if the revelation of your homosexuality is a revelation of the end of the world.

      >> 6:24 PM

Sunday, March 09, 2003

Intimacy is a particular kind of interaction. Sometimes it is about the suffusing of connection through often-underappreciated senses: touch, smell, taste. It is not simply appreciating the sight of a lover or the sound of a voice. It is appreciating the closeness through other means.

One of the best things about being in a relationship is sharing the intimate space of sleep and dreams. The sensation of a body next to yours as you drowse, awakening just briefly in the middle of the night before returning to deep sleep, is incomparable. It is the lengthening sense of time and peace, when nothing else matters but the closeness, the warmth, the weight.

      >> 8:43 PM

Friday, March 07, 2003


      >> 7:24 PM


      >> 4:46 PM

Thursday, March 06, 2003

[The Goodbye Girl.] Doh. The spin-off from Buffy will not be Faith the Vampire Slayer, apparently.

      >> 1:23 PM

Saturday, March 01, 2003

This is a bunny.

      >> 10:21 PM