Monday, June 30, 2003

OMG! It's already 4 pm! Almost outta here! A full day's work isn't so bad at all. I find it kind of weird that we get three or four wrong-number calls a day here. Hmmm.....

      >> 3:05 PM

I gotta find out why certain gay white American men are so into Japanese language and culture. Among them, my boyfriend, a number of prominent queer theorists, and a bunch of bloggers.

      >> 3:03 PM

Wee hoo. It's hoooooot out. I finally called up physical plant to look at the air conditioning in the building and thank god I did. It feels much better inside now. It wasn't all that hot in here, but the humidity was quite high (condensation on my water cup, drip drip drip), and I just can't stand humid air. Bleargh.

I'm trying to cobble together a conference paper proposal now. Deadline is today. (Why can't I do anything except at the last minute?) It's an international conference on Asian American and Asian British literatures in Taipei, Taiwan. If my proposal gets accepted and I go, I'll be able to visit my parents at the same time, I think. It's really far away, though.... In any case, the conference is on "negotiating the past," and I am thinking about tackling [Shani Mootoo's] Cereus Blooms at Night in conjunction with [Larissa Lai's] novels When Fox Is a Thousand and Salt Fish Girl. Mootoo's novel, one of my favorites, is a very complex meditation on the legacies of colonial traumas and those left behind while Lai's novels are strongly engaged in Chinese mythology and in creating their own mythologies of beginnings. While I would not characterize their works as similar, I think it might be interesting to compare how the two writers deal with the past and origins. (And incidentally, I know from their books' acknowledgements that they share their work with each other and Monika Kin Gagnon in a writing group.) Now I just have to figure out what the crux of my argument might be in this comparison of negotiations with the past.

      >> 2:28 PM

Sunday, June 29, 2003

The shoes I just had to buy today.

      >> 7:47 PM

Miracle of miracles -- not only are the leaves thriving on my peace lily, but a bud has appeared in the midst!

I want a tattoo here. I just don't know what to put on myself.

      >> 5:32 PM

Someone should take away my credit card until I learn how to budget my spending. Today: a pair of too-cool shoes (to add to a closet full of ones I haven't even worn) and two "novelty" t-shirts (Snoopy for my brother, [SpongeBob SquarePants] for me).

Shopping at the Chinese grocery store in Durham is a very nostalgic experience for me. It reminds me of when we used to go to a Chinese grocery store in California with our mom. It always seemed like an adventure because the store was over a half hour drive from our house. While our mom went about shopping for vegetables, fish, meat, rice, and other mundane items, we always got to pick out yummy candy and other favorite foods while we were there.

I've only been to this store in Durham a couple of times. Truth is, I'm a bit ashamed to go there. There's always a bit of tension when I'm at the register checking out. I can tell that the woman who works there doesn't know whether to address me in English or Mandarin or Taiwanese. (Apparently she knows Taiwanese. Today, she was chatting to the guy in front of me in Taiwanese, asking him where he's from and all that.) I can understand most of what I hear in the store, but not understanding every single word in a conversation is very difficult for me. And I have the most terrible time saying anything in either Mandarin or Taiwanese. I can hear the words in my head (in my own voice, even), but what comes out of my mouth sounds so stilted and distorted.

      >> 5:04 PM

It was awful. In my dreams last night, I was cooking a gourmet meal of insects. This seemed utterly sane at the time, though somehow part of my consciousness and stomach still revolted at the thought. I had two dishes going on the stove. One had sauteeing insects, the other boiled. The worst part was that they were live insects I was cooking, and I could both taste and smell them....

This probably makes me an official blog geek, but I'm just about to order myself a [Blogger t-shirt]. Yesterday was a big shopping day for me, too. Every once in awhile, I just need to pretend that I have money to spend. I went to a co-worker's garage sale and picked up a stovetop/camping espresso machine and [Ed Young's Seven Blind Mice]. Then I stopped by the [Durham Public Library's] book sale and picked up Ha Jin's Waiting, Sheila Ortiz Taylor's Spring Forward/Fall Back, Pat Barker's Regeneration, and J. G. Ballard's Empire of the Sun. Then I made myself the flimsy excuse of going to the mall to look at mattresses since the one we have seems to leave me sore and restless at the end of the night. Of course, instead of looking for a mattress (do department stores even sell mattresses usually?), I bought myself a whole wardrobe of yellow shirts.

Then it was a pleasant evening at a party for a wonderful officemate and Bowling for Columbine with a kick-ass friend. Michael Moore's movie I liked, I've decided, for his characteristic mix of biting humor, ironic statements, and social criticism. I've heard people say that he's too overbearing in his arguments or not clear enough about what his overall insights into gun control and the American culture of fear are. But you know what, I think there's an element of uncertainty in what he is trying to say that resonates with me (and others?). Towards the end of the film, he asks his subjects and the audience repeatedly what is it that makes America the home to the greatest number of homicides with guns (by a large margin). And though he tries to argue that it is this mix of loose gun laws, a history of violence, and a culture of fear fueled by the media and politicians, he also seems unconvinced himself. It's always this tricky question of causation in trying to solve a problem....

      >> 8:34 AM

Friday, June 27, 2003

Words have been decidedly absent lately.

Summer continues to trudge forward. So many things I should've done already, so many things left to do. I've been far less of a recluse this summer than in years past. I've had lunches with friends, gone to a party or two, chatted on the phone as well. It's kind of nice. Breaks the monotony of living in my head alone all the time.

Next week will be busy. I'm covering the front desk full-time while the office manager is off on vacation in the [Outer Banks].

Does it strike anyone else as odd that the phrasing is, ["perform" oral sex]?

      >> 3:25 PM

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

I've made this walk from work to the commuter lot for over a month now, and I'm just starting to notice little things along the way....

Stop sign put to another use.

I wonder how the homeowners feel about this declaration.

I wonder if these people turn on the lights at night.

What's this? Joyce? Who's Joyce?

Round three! Joyce, you are loved.

And just when you thought you'd had enough . . . Joyce Tara?

      >> 9:41 PM

I had a swimming epiphany this afternoon as I labored to make it across the pool, gasping for breath as I took each stroke. I have known that I need to work on my breathing, but I had been thinking that my problem was one of taking in breaths quickly and deeply enough to fuel me with oxygen as I float tortuously across the water. But instead, I realized today that I am not expelling air enough as I swim. It's why I must stop at the end of every lap and pant like crazy -- not that I'm not taking deep enough breaths, but that those breaths are not met with adequate clearing of previous ones. I must train myself to breathe out forcely while my face is still under water.

I've become an exercise junkie, something I never thought I'd be. When I used to jog every day, I suppose I loved the feeling of exercise. But there's something different about going to a gym rather than running out of a building and down city streets in the quiet of morning. Jogging was exercise, certainly, but it was solitary in a way that working out at a gym isn't, even though I don't exercise with anyone there or talk to the scattered other people. There's also something so modern about the gym experience -- the thing dwellers of urban (or urban-aspiring) areas submit to in the pursuit of a particular kind of body. Maybe it's because I've been receiving free issues of Men's Health and Men's Fitness magazines in the mail -- the male equivalents of magazines like Cosmo for women that have come to define the physicality of gender -- that I've come to identify more with these gym bodies that are our only vision of health, sexiness, and coolness. I'd love to have one of those bodies, but I tell myself (and believe) that what is more important is gaining a greater balance of health for myself. Especially over the last couple of years, I've begun to feel my body falling apart, aging far too rapidly as years of a sedentary existence finally begin to show on aching bones, too-easily tired muscles, difficulties exerting much physical energy, and with increasingly severe colds as well as lingering illnesses. We'll see how long this commitment to exercise lasts.... It's been about a month so far.

      >> 9:07 PM

*insert witty comment here*

Francium! The rarest element on Earth. There's only
up to 30 grams of you in the Earth's crust at
any given time. You're extremely secretive and
keep everyone at a distance. A nice, long
distance. Perhaps you were once a Uranium that
had one of your "associates" turn on
you? You *are* found in Uranium, after all...

What Element (heh, heh...) Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Hey, I'm the same element as [decay].

      >> 12:42 PM

Sunday, June 22, 2003

Mmmm... Christina and Justin together.... I'm sorry, I had to buy the [Rolling Stone] issue. You can revoke my anti-conformist credentials now.

      >> 6:48 PM

I had meant to tape the PBS P.O.V. airing of the documentary [Flag Wars], but I fell asleep. There must be other documentaries, news reports, etc. on the issues that come up when new, wealthier residents move into a run-down urban area. It's really an important phenomenon to consider as people work towards urban revitalization and controlling suburban sprawl. I did catch a screening of Flag Wars earlier in the week. I thought it was particularly provocative in showing how the two "sides" -- new gay residents moving into fixer-uppers and the African American population already there -- really were speaking two different languages when it came to what they saw going on. The gay residents were all about improvement, restoring beautiful old homes, bringing safety to the neighborhood, etc. And the African American residents talked about tradition, memories, holding on to family homes, serving their communities, etc.

Do gay fish have sex?

I saw Ang Lee's [Hulk] yesterday afternoon with Rob. It was soooo cool. He was big and green and he went grrrrr and he smashed things!!! I liked it a lot. Rob wasn't as impressed. He thought the movie tried to be too thoughtful in bringing in a whole story about Bruce Banner's father. I'm not convinced that part of the narrative really worked, either, but I am interested in how it tries to deal with trauma and repressed memories (a pet project of mine). Because of course, the Hulk emerges when mild-mannered (are all scientist-super heroes mild-mannered?) Bruce Banner gets angry. And the anger clearly is an expression of pent up emotions, an inability to deal in some other more "civilized" manner with undesirable feelings.

Rob would've liked to see more focus on the critique of military logic in the movie. It reminded me of The Iron Giant in that way. In essence, the US military has only two ways of thinking about new, unknown things: (1) Try to harness its great power, (2) and if unsuccessful, destroy it. In an interview (the one I linked earlier, I believe), someone noted that Ang Lee took pains to show that the Hulk never hurt anyone, even when he was smashing his way out of military lockdowns and such. (The only casualty seemed to be one maniacal military scientist guy who "deserved" it in the narrative.... though of course to frame it that way also suggests that death is something people deserve if they are bad and not if they are good. It's like when this wonderful woman died at work a couple months ago and the office manager said to me, "But she was such a kind and gentle person.")

And the computer-generated green Hulk was just cool. He was big and green and he went ggrrrrr and he smashed things!!!!

Now I want to read up on nanotechnology, too.

      >> 11:08 AM

Saturday, June 21, 2003

Need to go to sleep... But pictures first...

The clouds doubly reflected, from the Pittsburg trip.

Sleuthing notes on someone who's written on Hollywood fictions of Asian/Americans.

Need to start preparing for class. Stack of books to read.

Finding Following Foo.


      >> 2:34 AM

Friday, June 20, 2003

Up late, for once, burning the midnight oil. Actually, I'm down to my last pair of underwear and decided it'd be best to do laundry now rather than later when I might need a clean pair at the last minute. (Though since it's the weekend, that's highly unlikely....)

Last night, Rob and I went to see the worst movie ever, [Wrong Turn]. I mean, it was atrocious, really. Just an excuse for blood, mutilation, and deformities. Even [Faith] and the average good looks of [Desmond Harrington] weren't enough to make it worthwhile. (Desie didn't even take off his shirt or anything, come on!)

Afterwards, I rented [Equilibrium] to wash away the bad taste of Wrong Turn. Unfortunately, it was quite possibly the second worst movie ever made. At least the premise was interesting -- a future fueled by prozium, an emotion-blocking drug that all citizens of Libria must take at regular intervals. Though none of the details make sense. It's ridiculously easy for people to stop taking the drug. And "art" (like "woman") is just this sappy concept of the thing that stimulates man to extreme emotion. So the police-state of the future decrees that all art must be destroyed. La la la la. (I should go watch Fahrenheit 451.... I'm sure that has a more interesting take on censorship...)

At some point earlier this week, I was going to make a blueberry cobbler. It never happened. I wonder if the ingredients are still safe to use. Maybe that can be my procrastination project for tomorrow morning.

I'm also up doing some web searches for more people/books to look up regarding Asian American Studies. I had a nice talk with Joe this afternoon about where I am in my program and what I'm trying to do with AAS in an English department and university that has absolutely no one who could be considered an Asian Americanist. I'll need to make contact with people in the field if I actually want to enter it when I go out for a job.

      >> 11:28 PM

Monday, June 16, 2003

Can't wait can't wait! [Here's Lurking at You]:

"Ang and I once spent an hour talking about a rock," Brady recalls.

      >> 3:47 PM

Sometimes I come into work and the office manager is really cranky. She's never mean to me, but she'll crab about callers, other people at the Press, etc. All I can do is nod sympathetically.

      >> 1:28 PM

Sunday, June 15, 2003

Grrr. Damned leather seats in car during summer. *Grumble*

Going to a little get-together this evening to say good-bye to a friend who's off to Sacramento, California, for a teaching position. It'll be a house full of lesbians. Yay! I'm supposed to bring some sort of vegetably main dish. What should I bring? . . .

I think I should just give up this charade of identifying as a gay man and say that I identify as a lesbian instead.

Maybe some cauliflower-and-potato curry. . . I'll give Joe a ring for the recipe in his cookbook . . .

Writing group meeting before the get-together, though. We'll be critiquing a paper on monster children. (No, I did not write it.)

      >> 2:18 PM

Friday, June 13, 2003

I forgot my belt today. Good thing I just have to sit on my ass at work (mostly).

Summer has set in here in the heartland of North Carolina. Hot, humid weather with threatening thunderstorms every afternoon.

The butterfly stroke has got to be the most beautiful athletic-form-movement in the world. I've taken up swimming partially so that I can work my way up to the point where I can do the butterfly stroke. It's hard work. I can barely swim a few laps freestyle before I have to take up the foam kickboard. (Breathing is the hardest thing to master while swimming.)

Who is this Rem Koolhaas? He's on the cover of the June 2003 issue of Wired.

The dump is the lowest form of spatial organization. Pure accumulation, it is formless, has an uncertain perimeter and location. The surface of the dump reveals only part of its contents; the dump is fundamentally inconsistent and unpredictable. But it has potential; it attracts scavengers.
. . .
. . . Only the worthless is dumped. The worthless no longer has any right to geometry, to order. To be dumped is to be condemned to the world of disorder.


      >> 2:01 PM

Thursday, June 12, 2003

Oh. My. God. I am so in venting mood. I can't sleep. Well, I did sleep for a couple hours. Then I woke up. I'm going to rant a little now because I can't get back to sleep.

I had a very disappointing meeting today with a Duke professor. We met to talk about co-organizing the fall [East of California conference]. I thought things were going well before the meeting. She is co-director of a center and they were willing to put $3000 towards this conference. I figured we at UNC could scare up $500-$1000 and that would be plenty to put together a barebones conference. So I went into the meeting cheerfully optimistic. And things were going well the first few minutes. But at a certain point, I had to point out to her that I was a graduate student, not a faculty member, and suddenly her attitude changed dramatically. At first, she was cautious, but definitely ready to move forward with planning. She had made some comment about watching out for myself as a "pre-tenure" person. That was when I told her that, no, contrary to her assumption, I was not a faculty member. And I know that there is a big difference between the amount of influence a graduate student has and a faculty member has with getting administration and campus people to listen and contribute money, but my god, she really just shut down after I told her I was a graduate student. Then she spent the next forty minutes basically saying that putting together the conference wouldn't work out without enough faculty involvement at UNC. Although she wouldn't come right out and say it, her main concern was that she would have to end up doing all the logistics and grunt work for the conference. Hello? Didn't I say that we were working on the logistics at UNC? Really, I went into the meeting just hoping that she and her center would be on board with the funding because with $3000 we could definitely put together a conference, even if we we couldn't provide food for participants and anything fancy like big-name speakers and what-not. AARGH!!! It was all very discouraging and disappointing. I really wanted to see this conference happen here because I think it would be helpful for the intellectual community to see what Asian American studies actually does. The people here either have no clue that such a field of study exists or assume that it is the same as Asian studies. What better way to start a conversation about Asian American studies than to have a conference with Asian Americanists presenting their work? But no, this Duke professor, once she decided that she would be doing all the work since I am not a faculty member, started saying that now might not be the best time to have the conference here, how it might not be in the best interest of Duke and UNC, blah blah blah. Still, her other concerns were mostly valid. It is short notice to plan a conference. It would be difficult to get the word out and to get commitments to participate in the conference. But isn't some conversation about Asian American studies better than none? It's just so frustrating here because there are no Asian Americanists, and the people who are nominally interested in the field tend to come from an Asianist perspective (such as this particular professor). And there's just so much work to be done to get the communities here to understand the radical intellectual work that Asian American studies does to rethinking the dominant paradigms of study. What really pisses me off about the situation is that there was no sense of supporting the endeavors of graduate students who are interested in Asian American studies and who are willing to do the grunt work for bringing this national conference to the campuses. Instead, she was just worried about herself as chair of her department and having enough time to finish her book this summer, etc. etc. etc. I have to say, I haven't been overly impressed with a lot of faculty about really mentoring and encouraging graduate students in doing things that are relevant to their field of study. How about a little excitement and/or support for students who are willing to take on the work rather than just thinking about how much work it will be for yourself? It's not like I said, please organize this conference for me.

Now I can't sleep. God it's annoying.

      >> 2:26 AM

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

This is so not me, but I'm going to say it anyways, so does that mean I'm not me?....

I'm so excited that I can fit into this pair of pants again! Whee! I bought it three or four years ago, wore it a couple times, and then found that I couldn't fit in them anymore. But now I can. Yay!

      >> 3:26 PM

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

A weekly update:

The [CSA] conference was okay, though I neither networked nor attended panels, really. Saw one of my friends present. Went to a plenary session on "Public Feelings" (Rob rolled his eyes at me). And then presented my half-thought-out paper on Buffy and race. Actually got quite a number of interesting questions that will help me flesh out my ideas.

Caught a performance of [Hedwig and the Angry Inch] starring Anthony Rapp. Was rockin'. Someone still needs to explain the ending to me, though.

Didn't get a chance to stalk [Christina], unfortunately. Actually, she's not even there now, but I didn't even do the stalker thing and find out where she lived in Pittsburgh and all that. Why aren't she and [Justin] coming anywhere closer than DC on their tour??

Now I'm back.

No one told me that the gym I joined for the summer becomes a day care center during the summer. Grrrr. Makes it hard to swim when there are lots of kids running around splashing and stuff.

Fa la la la la.

      >> 1:55 PM