Wednesday, June 29, 2005

This is the view from my desk.

      >> 5:02 PM

Yay! My conference presentation proposal on Asian immigrant photographers and their native subjects has been accepted! PowerPoint, here I come....

      >> 1:16 PM

Monday, June 27, 2005

Tommy always has [thoughtful] [posts].

      >> 4:50 PM

I got a haircut today.
Now it'll be easier to prove Giles is the one shedding, not me.

It was hard trying to get Giles to stay still.

      >> 4:31 PM

I'm loving (and rockin') my dinosaur stomp t-shirt. I'm glad the red wine from Friday came out completely.

I had a nightmare last night in which I got up at a conference to give a presentation, only to suffer to most horrible stage fright. Worse than that, the conference organizers then got up and decided to move everyone directly to lunch, skipping my presentation altogether. And then, of course no one wanted to talk to me at lunch. As I was standing around all sad, I was next to [Chris Noth] who was talking to someone else. Chris turned to me and was trying to be comforting, saying something like don't worry about it, it happens to everybody, and I hope to hear your talk later today. I have no idea why Chris Noth was in my dream. But then, the conference organizers, those evil people, came by and swept away Chris and his friend, and I was left all alone again. I suspect this nightmare has to do with my reading yesterday the passage in The Historian in which a character has to give a keynote address at an international conference on a topic in which he has no research background.

      >> 1:54 PM

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Whoah. Did y'all know that social security insurance's full name is "Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance"? I just noticed it on my paycheck stub as OASDI.

      >> 7:46 PM

What's for breakfast?

      >> 7:02 AM

Friday, June 24, 2005

I'm about 150 pages into The Historian. I like it so far, even though it is kind of frustrating, too. It's definitely not the kind of "literary" fiction I usually read. Its narrative is deliberately structured to create and sustain suspense. These kinds of techniques, the stop-and-go of the story, are sometimes annoying because they are so deliberate and predictable. I'm finding myself (guiltily) liking evocations of the crusty, upper-class version of elite colleges (like Oxford and Yale) and ancient European grandeur. I like the descriptions of old university stacks and reading rooms; they remind me of my love of my college's neo-Gothic pretensions and wood-paneled interiors. I haven't had much time to spend with the novel yet, though. (It's a fast read, which is the only reason I've gotten as far as I have, reading a few snippets before work, during lunch, and after dinner.)

      >> 4:30 PM

Thursday, June 23, 2005

      >> 6:58 PM

Quotable movie dialogue I must work into my daily speech:

"Bats are nocturnal!" - Batman Begins (as response to someone trying to get you out of bed)

"Don't trust the trees." - The Brothers Grimm (just 'cuz, and yes, the movie isn't out yet, but the line is in the trailer)

      >> 6:11 PM

The subject line of today's e-mail from Regulator Books reads:

Upcoming Events: Sarah Foster, classical music, and free cloves of garlic at Tuesday's event with Elizabeth Kostova, author of The Historian.


      >> 1:07 PM

But Rossi himself had been convinced that Dracula had become one of the undead, in life -- in the course of history. I wondered if a novel could have the power to make something so strange happen in actuality. After all, Rossi had made his discovery well after the publication of Dracula. Vlad Dracula, on the other hand, had been a force for evil almost four hundred years before Stoker's birth. It was very perplexing. (Elizabeth Kostova, The Historian)

      >> 6:52 AM

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

I have a serious problem. I need to join a Book Buyers Anonymous group. :( I spent about two hours in two bookstores today (mostly at [The Gothic Bookshop] and then a bit at [Regulator Books]). I bought twelve books.
  1. Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection (Princeton, 2005)
  2. Jeffrey J. Williams, ed., Critics at Work: Interviews 1993-2003 (NYU, 2004)
  3. Samuel Weber, Institution and Interpretation, Expanded Edition (Stanford, 2001)
  4. Rhacel Salazar Parreñas, Children of Global Migration: Transnational Families and Gendered Woes (Stanford, 2005)
  5. Nancy Fraser, Unruly Practices: Power, Discourse and Gender in Contemporary Social Theory (Minnesota, 1989)
  6. Shirley Geok-lin Lim and María Herrera-Sobek, eds., Power, Race, and Gender in Academe: Strangers in the Tower? (MLA, 2000)
  7. Bill Readings, The University in Ruins (Harvard, 1996)
  8. Carl Gutiérrez-Jones, Critical Race Narratives: A Study of Race, Rhetoric, and Injury (NYU, 2001)
  9. Elaine H. Kim, Margo Machida, and Sharon Mizota, eds., Fresh Talk/Daring Gazes: Conversations on Asian American Art (California, 2003)
  10. Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone, Deconstructing Penguins: Parents, Kids, and the Bond of Reading (Ballantine, 2005)
  11. Elizabeth Kostova, The Historian (Little, Brown, 2005)
  12. Michael Cunningham, Specimen Days (FSG, 2005)
I want to read Kostova's novel (a Dracula story!) by next week when the author will be at Regulator Books to read from it and sign copies. I've heard many praises about this novel. Plus, vampires. It's a 642-page novel, though. So long!

      >> 4:29 PM


      >> 7:11 AM

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

.... Or instead of reading, tonight I've just watched a couple hours of VH1's Greatest Child Stars (top 40 of 100!) and fallen asleep in front of the tv.

I'm not sure what this movie [Ethan Mao] is about. A bad coming out experience leading (by way of a life on the streets as a hustler) to violence and hostage-taking? If there's one thing other than the coming out narrative in "gay" movies that I just am so over, it's this fetishization of violence as a site of troubled re-assertion of masculinity and social agency (oh hey, the electronic press kit's "notes from the filmmaker" actually makes the analogy to a gay Bonnie and Clyde story, joy). I'll probably still try to catch it at some point, though, because I'm interested in what writer/director Quentin Lee does. I'd say his films tend to raise interesting filmmaking and narrative questions for me rather than satisfy me as films in themselves. I liked his first film (co-directed by Justin Lin of Better Luck Tomorrow fame) Shopping for Fangs because of how he told stories of Asian American male anxiety over sexuality and masculinity in different ways than the usual laments. Even the women in that film presented novel embodiments of sexuality and femininity even if they ultimately tread the same grounds usually afforded (Asian) women. His second film Drift was a bit clunky as an experiment in a story that sequentially offers a few alternate endings.

      >> 8:52 PM

I saw Batman Begins last night. It was pretty awesome. The seriousness takes a little getting used to, though, and I think it wasn't just me who kept expecting the kind of humor or twisted light-heartedness of earlier television and film versions because whenever a funny moment did come up (usually with Alfred), the crowd almost anticipated the funniness with laughter. Is this post-ironic seriousness?

I just want to sit around and read non-dissertation related stuff today. Is that bad?

      >> 4:18 PM

Monday, June 20, 2005

Yay! Dinosaur Stomp!

      >> 5:26 PM

I <3 Giles. I was mad at Giles last night, for reasons I won't go into here, but seeing him act all timid and stuff around me because he could tell I was in a pissy mood just made me not be able to be mad at him for long. We had an earnest, heart-to-heart talk. And then it was all fine.

      >> 3:28 PM

Hello? Monday morning already?

      >> 6:00 AM

Sunday, June 19, 2005

It's raining outside with some distant thunder, and I'm reading Rob's copy of [Philip Kitcher's Abusing Science: The Case Against Creationism] on the floor next to a sleeping dog.

      >> 3:00 PM

      >> 1:41 PM

Holy crap! Giles just met a turtle.

I heard something rustling around in the woods.


Giles's greeting. He also barked. Then we left the turtle alone.

      >> 1:15 PM

Came across mention of this book [Deconstructing Penguins: Parents, Kids, and the Bond of Reading] which might be useful in thinking about the cultural circulation of children's books for the second half of my dissertation. I am planning on writing on children's illustrated books because they point to a very different set of concerns about reading practices, ideology and indoctrination, and so on than the novels that Asian American literary studies discusses. Though I don't want to go too much into stuff on parent-child relationships (I'm more interested in institutional spaces marked by classroom reading lists and public library collections, for example), this book seems helpful because it is about the authors' experience with a parent-child reading group fostering a love of reading in their children. As my friend [hermance] has noted before, there is often this blind reliance on the value of reading that literary scholars fall back on when we imagine the impact of literary studies for people (especially children). But is there something important about the content of the literatures we want kids and adults to read? Is there something about the discussions that we want to have? Is there something in the cultural practice of reading (as solitary an endeavor as it can be) that we think builds a better sense of character?

"Best of all," the Goldstones note, "you don't need an advanced degree in English literature or forty hours a week of free time to effectively discuss a book with your child. This isn't Crime and Punishment, it's Charlotte's Web."

Plus, the title of the book is cute, even if they are perhaps not pointing to literary deconstruction in its high theory sense. Because you don't need no stinkin' English degree to read children's books! (The best part is when they suggest that Crime and Punishment is part of English literature. I love being snobby.)

      >> 12:43 PM

New page design wherein dog is still watching you.

      >> 11:10 AM

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Crazy dissertation-avoiding me wants to think about next year's [Association for Asian American Studies] conference in Atlanta, the first time this conference is being held in the South, as a springboard for an edited collection (special issue of a journal? a book?) on "Asian American Souths." I'm sort of on the site committee organizing the conference, so I was thinking that if I could propose a few panels that explore the concept of "Asian American South" in different ways, the collected discussions would make an amazing contribution to Asian American Studies scholarship. I can see the collection in the following sections:
  1. Asian Americans in the American South, historical recovery work of the submerged presence of Asian Americans in the South, as in Loewen's The Mississippi Chinese, though more up-to-date in terms of intellectual commtiments (likely including something on my pet project studying the North Carolina lives of the Siamese twins, Chang and Eng Bunker);
  2. Asian Americans in the American South, case studies of the contemporary presence of Asian American communities in the South (especially new immigrant populations) such as the Hmong and other Southeast Asian refugess in North Carolina and South Asian tech workers in the Research Triangle Park area, likely focus on race and civil rights;
  3. "Asian American" in the American South, ethnographic work on how Asian Americans perceive the South and their place in it;
  4. Transnational Asian American Studies (with its usual focus on Asia-Pacific flows) as a frame for thinking about the American South, the South as a node in transnational flows connecting Asia and America;
  5. Conversations between transnational Asian American Studies and other Americanist fields that have been re-situating America in extra-national terms:
    • Latina/o Studies work on the borders between the US and Latin America,
    • Southern Studies work that argues for the place of the US South in determining the US's global presence (such as the weird essay by James Peacock and his co-edited collection The American South in a Global World),
    • "New World" American Studies work re-centering American Studies in the South, Latin America, and Caribbean (such as Jon Smith and Deborah Cohn's Look Away!: The U.S. South in New World Studies);
  6. Asian American connections to anti-globalization work on economic, social, and political structures of global capital as they affect local communities of the global south;
  7. Asian diaspora studies with links to the American South (even broadly conceived, such as with South Asian and East Asian laborers in the Caribbean, post-slave emancipation);
  8. Visions of Asian/Americans and Asia from the South;
  9. Connections between civil rights activism in the South and Asian Americans and/or Asian "Third World" struggles (Vietnam War could be a central moment for analysis);
  10. A cluster of teaching and academic life stuff:
    • Teaching Asian American Studies in the South,
    • Asian American students in the Southern classroom,
    • The place of Asian Americanist scholars in Southern institutions.
Probably more stuff. But now I'm daydreaming about who I should approach to take on this project with me.... (I am such a nerd.)

      >> 4:55 PM

Friday, June 17, 2005

Beware of surroundings sign in library.

      >> 9:33 PM

      >> 10:31 AM

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Though I had planned to go to bed early, I stayed up past midnight working on a conference presentation proposal for the [New Directions in American Indian Research] conference here at UNC. What's that, you ask? You didn't know I did Native American Studies? Well, I don't, really. But I've been fascinated by this early twentieth-century photographer [Frank S. Matsura] since I heard him mentioned by [Rayna D. Green], the keynote speaker at last year's New Directions conference. And as I was thinking about what kind of presentation I could give at this year's conference (because I'm a conference whore), I came across mention of [C.D. Hoy], another early twentieth-century photographer with a remarkably similar story. As a result, I wrote up an abstract for a presentation arguing the importance of considering how Native Americans/First Nations are crucial to the recovery project undertaken by art historians in presenting us with these two Asian immigrant photographers. Reading through the books and on-line material about both Matsura and Hoy, I noticed how the presence of Native peoples in the portrait work of the photographers comes to function as partial explanation for the curiosity of the lone Asian immigrant photographer behind the camera. So I'd like to make one of these arguments about how the technology of the camera and its ability to capture images in a particular way comes to stand in as the narrative for multicultural harmony in these frontier towns in Washington and British Columbia. I hope the proposal gets accepted because then I get to do a PowerPoint presentation. Woo! (And look! I just got the e-mail acknowledging my proposal submission.)

      >> 9:55 AM

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Hello? Wednesday night already?

      >> 8:05 PM

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Note to self: Four kinds of claims literary scholars make (according to my advisor):
  1. Here is a better reading of this text (elucidation).
  2. Here is a concept that I will unfold through a text (or that a specific text will help us understand in more complex or better ways).
  3. This is the cultural moment in which this text was produced.
  4. This is a conversation critics in the field have.
I wish I could do more work than I do.

Coming across this sentence in Donald E. Hall's The Academic Self: An Owner's Manual:

At that point, I had decided that without a job offer that year, I would pursue a degree and career in library science.

Hmm. That's what I said a few months back, though I haven't even gone on the job market yet, and my desire to make a career change is not entirely because I feel like a failure at this academic one (though that's a part of it) but also because I find the personalities, expectations, and environments of academia to be perplexing and sometimes uncomfortable. Hall's book, admittedly a sort of self-help book for young academics, is interesting because it calls for all of us in this profession to be more up front about what we are doing and what we value. Hall's experience has been that academia has a fairly strict hierarchy of things that are good like research university jobs, publication in prestigious journals and by particular presses, and other sexy institutional affiliations -- and he wants us to be more realistic about how the vast majority of people in the field, all PhDs, are just not going to be able to attain those few goods. What he wants is for us to be self-reflexive about how we create expectations and environments for our academic, intellectual, and collegial selves. This is a nice thought, of course, but I wonder how it is that we can get a whole gaggle of people to make a sea change in this kind of attitude towards our work.

      >> 8:15 PM

Checked out from the library today Cecile Pineda's [Face], [Ishle Yi Park's] The Temperature of This Water, and Joyce Carol Oates's [Zombie]. Bought at the book store Peter Coviello's [Intimacy in America: Dreams of Affiliation in Antebellum Literature] and Diane Fujino's [Heartbeat of Struggle: The Revolutionary Life of Yuri Kochiyama]. When am I ever going to read any of these books?

I checked out Pineda's novel because one of my committee members talked about it in a conference presentation this past weekend as a curious example of a novel writen by a chicana but (and this is the crucial conjunction because of the way latina/o studies understands the content of chicana writing) about a black man in Rio de Janeiro's slums. I checked out Park's book of prose and poetry because I've heard much about this spoken word artist (who tours with [Def Poetry Jam]) but haven't read or heard anything by her yet. I checked out Oates's novel because I liked her new young adult novel Sexy so much and this book has the cool title Zombie AND curious illustrations interspersed in the text. The two books I bought just because they looked intereseting. When am I going to work on my dissertation?

      >> 5:50 PM

Monday, June 13, 2005

I stopped by the local library after work today to finish up [Thomas Frank's] [What's the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America] before returning it. (I started it a few weeks back when future poet mentioned it.) Frank's narrative of the rise of today's new conservatism is the most compelling I've encountered. While it shares in the usual liberal hand-wringing over the state of things, it takes the extra step of actually exploring how it is that so many "hard working Americans" of the working and lower-middle classes have begun to vote against their material interests. His argument is essentially that explicit class consciousness has been almost completely erased in favor of an obsessive focus on cultural and moral matters and a blind acceptance of the infallibility of business practices, corporate logic, and capitalism write large. I find the argument compelling because this is exactly what I find most interesting in cultural studies work -- the kind that examines how seemingly free-floating cultural movements, ideas, and values are deeply embedded in structural and material forces as the things that people generally use to understand their everyday lives.

I'm so impressed by Frank's analysis that I checked out his earlier book One Market Under God. I also checked out bell hooks's Where We Stand: Class Matters, Lisa Yee's Millicent Min, Girl Genius, and the wonderfully titled A History of the African-American People [Proposed] By Strom Thurmond As Told to Percival Everett & James Kincaid [A Novel]. While at the library, I read a few children's picture books by Allen Say and also a couple of delightful ones by [Yangsook Choi]:

I think the local library is an interesting place, despite my first unpleasant encounter with some of the denizens of the neighborhood a few weeks back (some woman called 911 on me because I had left Giles in the car for five minutes to check out Frank's book). Walking around the space, you quickly get a sense of the uncommon mix of patrons the place must get. There are shelves of Spanish-language books, pamphlets, and information guides. There are also shelves for Hindi language books. The computer room is filled mostly by black teenagers. A white-East Asian couple browses books with their hapa daughter. A multi-generational South Asian family reads together at a table.

I came home after browsing books for over an hour, skipping a run at the gym. I made some black bean chipotle chili for dinner and am now settling in to read some essays by Lloyd Kramer (chair of UNC's history department and guest speaker for tomorrow's seminar).

      >> 8:10 PM

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Because I'm bored, I just uploaded some pictures on this [Face Analyzer] thing, perhaps inadvisably. In any case, I am apparently 100% Chinese. My archetype is a [beta academic]. Sigh. I guess I'll never really make it big. The face analyzer does say that I have a very low "gay factor," though.

      >> 4:07 PM

I'm bored! Entertain me!

Starry Skies. It's so me!

      >> 3:46 PM

[Nice try stupid! You're an organ talking to a canopic jar! I don't feel!]

      >> 11:41 AM

Saturday, June 11, 2005

I've noticed lately that I've been slouching like a fiend. I don't know exactly when it started or if I've gotten worse recently. But I'm now slouching SO MUCH that my back is beginning to hurt. I'll be sitting at work in front of the computer, and then I'll suddenly realize that I am so slouched over that I have to look up to see the computer monitor. I need to figure out how to stop this slouching.

      >> 4:11 PM

Friday, June 10, 2005

Off to wine tasting party now. (Eek! I'm late!) Rob wants to take beers over and be a heckler.

      >> 7:31 PM

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Making bracelets while drinking wine is fun. My boyfriend thinks my bracelet is gay.

      >> 10:27 AM

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

[A Short History of the Chinese Restaurant]:

Would anyone have bet the bank on Chinese food back then? According to Chinese Restaurant News, there are now more Chinese restaurants in America than there are McDonald's franchises—nearly three times as many in fact. In the 19th century, though, the Chinese were scorned as rat-eaters; nothing could have been more revolting than eating what they ate.

Ah. The Chinese Restaurant. I need to collect some menus for [indigo som's chinese restaurant project]. But yeah, studying Chinese restaurants is actually quite an interesting endeavor. There are many things to say about them like the question of cultural tastes. The existence of Chinese restaurants in so many places where there aren't substantial Chinese/American populations also is interesting, pointing often to particular kinds of transnational business practices.

What I know of Canadian "Chinese" restaurants points to a different kind of history than American Chinese restaurants. (Admittedly, this is very little and largely through the biotext of Fred Wah.) There, while labor practices and cultural expectations led to many Chinese immigrants' operation of restaurants, the food they cooked and offered were largely the kind of food the white Canadians of their regions already ate. Chinese restauranteurs, then, were not expected to provide exotic Chinese food.

When I went on a bus tour of Europe with my parents, the Chinese/American bus tour company fed us at various Chinese restaurants around Europe. It was actually quite interesting -- the tour of European sites did not really include a tour of national and regional cuisines. So this is one way of seeing how to track Chineseness across many nations despite the differences in the food itself.

      >> 10:37 PM

This morning when we were watching a rerun of Buffy on FX, Rob wanted to say to our Giles that Ms. Calendar was coming on to him. But Giles was already at day care. And Rob said that it's just wrong for Giles not to be here to watch Buffy with us. Also, when I was leaving a little later in the morning and Rob was in bed, he said that it is just wrong that neither Giles nor I was going to be there to keep him company as he slept.

This evening I gave Giles a bath. He was totally hiding under the bed as I drew the bath. I had to drag him out, which was probably a bad thing to do, but he just would not come out (even when called with treats!).

      >> 10:26 PM

I'm trying to find a dog collar with pictures of little books on it. My new dream business is a bookstore-slash-dog-pet-store.

      >> 6:09 PM

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Mmm. The humidity of summer. I'd forgotten what it felt like to be forced to give up any pretense of non-sweatiness for months. It's thundering outside now but the rain hasn't fallen yet. Giles was startled by some thunder just a little while ago.

      >> 3:51 PM

Monday, June 06, 2005

      >> 10:51 PM

      >> 7:45 PM

Yikes it's hot out. If it weren't for the silly dog, I'd be staying indoors for the next three or four months. Unfortunately, since Giles hasn't learned how to use the toilet, we'll still have to go outside. :(

Time to get back to reading. After a long weekend of doing nothing.

      >> 5:13 PM

Sunday, June 05, 2005

[Holy Fuck!]

About 144,000 unmarried couples live together in the state, but the law against cohabitation is rarely enforced.

I'm a [criminal]!

      >> 1:03 AM

Mmm. Shared a bottle of wine with a friend tonight. Am nice and sleepy and ready for bed now.

Giles went to a yard warming party today and picked fights with a few dogs there. I don't know what to do about his inability to get along with dogs better. He's not horrible and isn't really aggressive, but he does snap sometimes and then gets all snarly with other dogs. I'm not saying it's always the other dog's fault (which would be stupid to say since he was really the dog that participated in all the dog fighting today), but he really just has problems with understanding the social boundaries of other dogs. I think he gives off the wrong vibes that encourage other dogs to do things to him that make him snarly. One day, he's going to get his ass kicked bad.

Tomorrow will be a much more writerly day.....

      >> 12:56 AM

Saturday, June 04, 2005

[Emotions are for the weak!]

      >> 1:35 AM

Friday, June 03, 2005

[Single bicurious lesbians.]

      >> 7:54 PM

      >> 8:58 AM

This morning Giles has been whining and barking at the frog on our patio.

      >> 8:31 AM

I've been such a narcoleptic lately. I fell asleep very early last night (leaving my iTunes application playing). Early in the evening, I dozed for a half hour in my car in the parking lot of my gym before realizing that I had not the energy to work out. I've just been in such a haze lately, not quite able to wake up fully. I wonder if my allergy meds are doing this to me. I think both are supposed to be non-drowsy, though.

I also left my IM program on. And five of my friends sent me messages. Usually no one ever chats with me. This was what they said: "I'm moving out of the country for my next job in a few days." "I've got free money for next year!" "Look at the cool Rent trailer!" "Are you there?" and "You suck for deserting me." Ah well.

      >> 6:17 AM

Thursday, June 02, 2005

The genderqueer cashier at the gourmet grocery/deli nearby is so weirdly obsequious. I don't know if it's just with me, but it makes me feel all ucky inside, like I'm some crazy-ass conservative Southern gentleman.

      >> 1:04 PM

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

I am so tired. But I must stay up to make some zucchini cheddar bread. I've been tired all day despite going to bed last night at 9:30. I slept fitfully for at least the first couple of hours, though. It must've been because I had Rachmaninoff piano concertos playing a bit too loudly and the light in the next room shining directly in my face. I kept waking up when I rolled over onto Giles.

      >> 7:53 PM

Disturbing duck hound from my friend Patrick.

      >> 9:45 AM