Saturday, November 30, 2002

living the puppet's dream

Sci-fi movies get the worst of me, make me fear death and life in ways that nothing else is capable of. I hung out with Sarah in Georgetown tonight because I wanted to go check out the new multiplex that opened on K Street. So, the theater impressed me a lot. Loews did an awesome job which surprised me so much. They preserved this old brick smokestack and built the theater around it, having the smokestack in the middle of the lobby. So maybe it was just done to look hip, to look trendy, but whatever, they preserved a part of old DC and that is commendable.

And then there was the movie, Soderbergh's latest, Solaris. This man is so fucking productive these days - how does he have time to make so many movies, so many movies that are actually pretty good? Why can't I be this productive? I will be. I will stop sitting on my ass.

But yeah, the movie gave me the same sensations that the last two sci-fi movies I saw did, AI and Vanilla Sky - there is something about the format of sci-fi movies for me, that makes life seem so scary. Normal movies, even horror movies, deal with the mundane - with social relations and what various humans do to various humans, all very common stuff. But then sci-fi movies take stuff to a whole nother level - making their themes so much more expansive. Sci-fi movies step out of those earthly concerns, show a universe, a fucking mass of nothingness - and all I can do is mutter, "Oh Shit." Oh Shit, Earth is so fucking tiny, I have luckily forgotten this, and there is this whole fucking universe, a silent one. Oh Shit. Sitting through these types of movies where mortaltiy and concepts of life are called into question send me into fits of existential shivers. The movie was actually really good and the end dealt with these issues in a way that's sort of cheesy, but makes life bearable for me, gives it meaning and hope. I am a big fan of optimism. The world has as much meaning as we are willing to grant it. The question of whether you are alive or dead was declared irrelvant, that all that mattered was love.

And I left the theater in the best of moods, walked down a deserted alley with Sarah over a rickety footbridge over a dry C & O Canal, walked happy for a couple more blocks, until I ecstatically walked over the Key Bridge over the still full, the nowhere near dry Potomoac River. Stopping midway over the bridge trying to watch my spit land, to see definite constraints to space, to see the spatial parameters of nature, of me, of what I hope is life. I looked at the skyline, at the glowing Kennedy Center, at smokestacks, at the Washington monument and I wanted to not be in school, to live somewhere fun, to act like I was actually alive. I ran into Joni today at Target when I was shopping with my mom, and she told me that she dropped out of Rutgers this week.

I said Right On, emphatically, seriously. I wanted to drop out. I asked her what she was going to do. She, Joni, said that she didn't want to join the corporate world yet. That there were still piercings she had never got, and that she still needed to die her hair blue. And, ha-ha, there are people so wonderful like this, that are devoted to living, to doing what they want to do, and I gave her a huge hug, so happy to see her, so fucking happy that someone else wanted to live. And so, I asked what she was going to do. And she said be a rock star. And she is so fucking cool. So right on.

Thursday, November 28, 2002

gobble gobble gobble

I am in Virginia. It is nice, cold, and boring. I was expecting a low-key Thanksgiving this year, but this was about as low key as you could possibly get. My mom and sister picked me up from the metro station last night and stopped at Blockbuster on the way home to rent a bunch of videos to watch this week.

Out of all the Blockbusters in suburban Virginia to stop at, we stop at the one that I used to work at, the one that Sarah used to work at, that one that I quit working at without notice, the one with people still working at it that I had no desire whatsoever to see. I pouted (sp?) and said I was going to wait in the car, that I could not go in there. And fuck me, and fuck stupid Blockbuster. I waited in the car, thinking of how lame I was being, how lame this trip was already turning out to be - and then my family made it exponentially lamer by coming out with the worse movies ever, half of which I had already seen. Spider-Man, Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Cleopatra, Ocean's Eleven, Monty Python and some other movie that made me cringe when they finally made it back to the car.

Then we went grocery shopping for snack foods because we were not having a turkey, because as my mom told me we were just going to eat snacks and watch movies on Thanksgiving. I am a traditionalist I am finding out. This idea shocked me - this is just not how Thanksgivings are supposed to happen. My mom said that there was no point in cooking a turkey since neither me or my sister eat meat, and she was really excited about the movies and snacky foods idea. I then came out to my mother in the crowded grocery store. Not about being a homo which she most definitly already knows by now, but about eating meat. So many people turned and stared at us when my mom reacted to this, saying "WHAT?! YOU ARE EATING MEAT!!!" etc. etc. My mom had picked up a thing of stuffing only to put it down saying it had turkey broth in it. I said So. And from there, I told my mom that I ate meat - and this was shocking because ever since I became a vegetarian at 14, I was the biggest asshole refusing to eat anything with any meat products in it - and for me to just mention that I now eat meat so casually just sent my mom into loud aghasts. It was actually really funny. She then asked me if I wanted a turkey, and I said no no no.

This morning, I was woken up bright and early to go hiking at Great Falls, which was actually a wonderful way to spend Thanksgiving. When we reached the falls, my sister made a comment, saying how beautiful it was. And it made me cringe because what she wanted to say was true, but language couldn't work, it sounded sentimental, like what you are supposed to say. But what her intents were, what inspired them, the sublime qualities of the scene were true, and I will leave it at that since I too will fail. All I will say is that walking those trails along the Potomac, seeing fallen leaves all around me, feeling the nippy ear creep through my hat, reaching my ears was a wonderful thing, making me thankful for things I fail to notice sometimes, made me appreciate life.

I saw quite a few dogs. I wanted to be one, so goddamn happy and in love with it all - as soon as I escape Sarasota and settle somewhere I am getting a dog, a big fucking slobbery one. That is Life Goal #1.

We then ate all the side dishes of Thanksgiving, stuffing, salad, mashed potatos, etc. and watched movies and it was so pleasant in its informality. Conversation though was the same, not as informal as I would like. My sister asked me how school was going, what I wanted to do when I graduated. And I burped and said I didn't want to talk about it. She asked again. I said live somewhere and work, just like everyone else. And fuck it - I do not want to think about these things. I want to masturbate, listen to music, and occasionally get my rocks off with other people, and if I am lucky enough, with attractive people. But, this is not really the type of thing you can say to your family, and so I just burp, shrug my shoulders and say who cares, because who fucking does, because I do and don't want to.

Because, there is Bruce Springsteen and when driving back from Great Falls, the classic rock station played Side 1 of Born to Run. And the title track came on at the end of the side, and I lost myself, hearing lyrics that I have heard a million times before, but feeling them, understanding them in what seemed (and therefore was!) a brand new way that I never had. A brand new song! Bruce songs are like that, where I hear lyrics that I never really heard before, or which I never actually let register - and "Born to Run" was so right-on today as we were driving home down I-95. Baby this town rips the bones from your back / It's a death trap, it's a suicide rap / We gotta get out while we're young / Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run .... and then at the end, Bruce invites me [and you too] to run away with him, he knows how I feel, how we do, he gets it: Together [Charlie] we'll live with the sadness / I'll love you with all the madness in my soul / Someday [boy] I don't know when / we're gonna get to that place / Where we really want to go / and we'll walk in the sun / But till then tramps like us / baby we were born to run!! And, I am so so thankful for that, for being able to ride in a minivan down 95 with my family and to be able to sing along to "Born to Run" with them, to dream of running, to fucking do it, and to know that we'll get to "that place." That fucking place that I thought about while reexamning my bookshelf last night, picking up books that once held meaning and religious import to me, reading highlighted lines from these Beats, feeling it again, dreaming of that place, feeling the promise of life.

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

schatz a lotsa maza

Still don't have a disc to save my papers on, so here is the really silly Russian fiction one I just wrote in two hours and will turn in about half an hour.

The Eavesdropper and the Role of the Reader in Crime and Punishment

With our ear to the door of Dostoevsky’s text, listening intently, and for purposes that perhaps need to be further examined, further admitted to, we, the collective audience, the readers of this text, of Crime and Punishment, we listen to Raskolinov’s tale just like Svidrigaylov on the other side of that door, and just like the furrier listening from the closet in the police station. The placement of these two eavesdropping scenes within the text is done to comment on our own role, that of the reader, in this text, and how similar our role is to that of the other two eavesdroppers, deprived of visuals, and relying mainly on language to hear Raskolnikov’s tale. Both instances of eavesdropping that occur seem to stem from non-benign intentions, and so if we are to take these scenes as a broader commentary imploring the critical questioning of our own role in eavesdropping, of our own role in the reading of a text, which this paper is going to assume and read these scenes as commentary of, then what are our intentions, how are they distinct from the other two eavesdroppers, if even at all? This paper is going to look at two eavesdropping scenes within this novel to attempt to answer this question, and will argue that the answer is not anything black and white – that just like other issues in Dostoevsky’s text, the conception of the reader’s role in a text - of the eavesdropper - is a murky one. This paper will also take a look at the occasional instances of an entre nous technique, of saying “we” within the text (to refer to himself and the audience), and how, by doing this, Dostoevsky grants the reader a more active role in the text, which complicates a reading of the eavesdropping scenes that would merely argue that the reader is assigned a negative role, that of merely an eavesdropper. This paper will argue that things are never that black and white in Dostoevsky – that they are always a little gray – and the role that the reader has in the reading of a text is that of a person with their ear to the door, but that that is not always a bad thing, not at all.

When Sonya and Raskolnikov are talking in Sonya’s apartment, having what they (and the reader!) thought was a private, unobserved moment between them, at the end of the scene, we, the readers find out that Svidrigaylov was listening the whole time, and as a result we become aware that we were too, that we are, that our role is not all that clearly defined from Svidrigaylov’s.

Beyond the door on the right, which shut off her room from Gertrude Karlovna Resslich’s flat, was another room, which had long been empty ... Sonya had long been accustomed to thinking of the room as unoccupied. But all through that interview, behind the door of the empty room, Mr. Svidrigaylov had been concealed, standing and listening. When Raskolnikov went out, he stood there for a moment longer, thinking, then tiptoed into his own room next door, got a chair, and carried it close to the door leading into Sonya’s room. The conversation had seemed to him interesting and important, and he had greatly enjoyed it – enjoyed it so much that he had brought the chair so that in future, the next day, for example, he should not be subjected again to the unpleasantness of standing on his feet for a whole hour, but be more comfortably placed and thus enjoy complete satisfaction in every respect. (279-280)

This is the window shot in a noir film right here that would remind the audience of their own voyeuristic gazing upon this product, a meta-commentary on the audience’s own role in watching a film. Here, we have something that produces a very similar effect, where we have a closeted listener to a scene - a listener that we do not find out about until the end of the scene, until the conversation has finished, allowing for the reader to read the scene once through normally as a conversation between two characters, but then ending it with a punch that makes the reader rethink the previous scene with the new information that the two were being listened to the whole time. And then there is the realization that we were also listening in the whole time, that we are Svidrigaylov in this scene.

Dostoevsky pokes fun at the passive listener/reader here by having Svidrigaylov move a chair close to the door so that “he should not be subjected again to the unpleasantness of standing on his feet for a whole hour.” Which, clearly, is a jab at the reader, at us, for making ourselves to comfortable in our readings, as if the act of reading should be a passive one. Instead, it should be a positive, active act. Svidrigaylov not only is a passive listener but he also then uses the information for his own purposes as something to hold over Raskolnikov, using information secretly obtained as a power leverage. This right here is what should distinguish our reading of this scene from Svidrigaylov’s listening to it – that we should take this information and use it in a positive fashion, not for the voyeuristic thrill that Svidrigaylov gets from it. We must find our kicks elsewhere in the reading of a text, by engaging in a dialogue with it, making it an active reading.

And Dostoevsky invites us to do that, absorbs us into his narrative voice in a couple of instances, saying either “us” or “we,” making the narration entre nous, where we are in on the joke, on the side of Dostoevsky, helping to narrate the story. The democratic “we” allows for the reader’s active participation with the text. When Rasolnikov decides for sure to murder the pawnbroker, Dostoevsky absorbs us into the narrative voice as a way of explaining why no explanation was needed for how Raskolnikov came to view this course of action as “rational.” “We omit the course of reasoning by which he arrived at this latter verdict, since we have already run too far ahead ... We shall only add that the practical, material difficulties played only a very secondary role in his thinking,” (61). The act of reading we - its verbalization by the reader - has the effect of including the reader in that we, makes the reader active in the text, makes the reader’s role distinct from that of the eavesdropper.

The appearance of an eavesdropper and the narrative importance with which this text grants these appearances should signal to us that these scenes are significant, and especially significant with regards to meta-commentary about the act of reading a text. Not only does Raskolnikov have Svidrigaylov listening in on him, but later in the novel, he also has the furrier listening in on him too, which just serves to further the point that everyone is listening in on Raskolnikov for their own clandestine purposes, and that we are not excluded from that, that we are listening to. The multitude of eavesdroppers on Raskolnikov gives the effect that many people are listening in on him, that he is a story, and thus, our own role in the reading of the text is identified by Dostoevsky, is called up for a critical examination. We are, essentially, Porfiry’s surprise waiting in the closet.

‘But don’t you want to see my little surprise?’ chuckled Porfiry, seizing his arm again and stopping him by the door. He seemed to be growing ever more high-spirited and playful, and this made Raskolnikov finally lose control.
‘What little surprise? What is this?’ he asked, stopping short and looking at Porfiry with terror.
‘Just a little surprise. Here it is, just behind the door, he, he ,he!’ (He pointed his finger at the closed door in the partition, which led into his living quarters.) ‘I locked it in so that it shouldn’t run away.’
‘What is it? Where? What?’ Raskolnikov went to the door and tried to open it, but it was locked.
‘It is locked. Here is the key!’
And he showed him the key, which he had taken from his pocket. (295)

Waiting inside that closet that Porfiry is pointing his finger at, locked in, is the furrier who went to the police to turn in Raskolnikov, but also us. We, too, are locked in that closet. As readers, we are also privileged to eavesdrop on this story, and in fact, do so, and are right there in that closet, just as guilty of eavesdropping as the furrier. Here, in this scene, with the closeted furrier, we have a listener that is more active, not nearly as passive as Svidrigaylov. The furrier is on the verge of actually entering into the scene, into the conversation, and is about to accuse Raskolnikov of murder, but he is prevented by someone else coming to confess the murder right at that time, and has to remain a passive observer.

While observing the scene, witnessing Raskolnikov’s refusal to admit guilt and then the painter’s admittance of guilt, the furrier assumes that he has made a mistake in his thoughts – that Raskolnikov is innocent and he later goes to apologize. Here, our listening is made distinct from that of the eavesdropper. We know that everything someone says is not always the truth, and we know that Raskolnikov is the murder, while the furrier, who listened to the information that he was presented with, that he was privy to hear – he assumed from this that Raskolnikov was innocent. And here some dangers are shown with reading/listening – that you only know so much as you are told, sometimes the reader (the furrier) does not get the whole story, or just gets half of the story, or gets the completely wrong story – and that is a dangerous situation – that you (the reader) need to hear as many voices and as many conflicting truths as possible to find out what is really going on, to maybe even reach some truths of your own. And we, as readers of this text, are privileged in that regard because we have Bakhtin’s polyglot fully realized here – this novel is an actively dialogic one with many different voices speaking within the novel. We are not merely eavesdroppers on Rasolnikov, we are instead, eavesdroppers on everyone, on St. Petersburg, on life maybe – and that, the ability to hear many different voices and sides, is a thoroughly benign thing.

Sunday, November 24, 2002

Just because..

Because my other diary has some readers that I know about it, because here it seems a little more private, I am going to update here right now to tell about my new crush. And so yeah, I say I don't want people to know, that I am not writing this for an audience, but that's a lie - I am, very much so - otherwise I would be writing this on a paper journal. Knowing other people might read this makes me actually write, because I am sick and you are too, and it's a wonderful feedback loop between me writing entries, you reading them, you writing your own, and me reading them, us reading them - and it all seeming like it matters - like the cause is a noble one, a joke we are all in on. We get it.

And I wrote a card yesterday, a very out of control one with a very specific audience, the boy I have a crush on and that is probably going to make me seem scary, like a stalker - I signed it "from your secret admirer," but I think it is not secret, that I blew my cover last night when talking to this boy, this very dreamy boy for a brief couple minutes in the Fishbowl where Robert Schober was having his birthday party and people were rolling around on gym mats. And he, Ben Haber, was sitting at a table by himself, drunkenly staring off into space, and I was nervous, so nervous since I had never talked to him, but it was very rare that he is by himself, and I knew I had to take advantage of this moment, that this would be the perfect opportunity to meet him.

I went and sat next to him, started to talk to him, and eek gods, I have not been this obsessed with a boy in the longest time. The crush started a couple of weeks ago at his little genderfuck wall when I was convinced that he was the coolest boy ever after watching him dance all night like a little rock and roller. I have tattooed on Rebecca's back with wite-out, "I Love Ben Haber." She has managed to get it off, but I am still obsessed, so much so - and I think an apt analogy to describe this obsession to anyone that knew me last year would be this is sort of like my Mark Fessenden crush, where this cute skinny boy is dancing really cool at the wall, where I believe that this says something about him, about his personality, that unrestrained dancers, that people that look like they are comfortable, having fun, living - are good people, that there is something intrinsically good about people with plexi-heels. That I think Ben Haber is so goddamn cool, and I am insane, this is weird obsession. Two nights ago, I wrote a note on his message board in front of his door, yesterday I made a card - and last night, talking to him, I said some things that will probably give away that I wrote the card.

I heart crushes. I heart Ben Haber. I heart life and crushes that make me excited about its prospects, about potentials and maybes, just maybes. just maybe...

ten statements not necessarily related

1. The weather outside is chilly, my heart is not. That is cheesy. So fucking what? Let's embrace the cheesiness, let's make it real, our lived lives.

2. I am listening to random mp3s that I downloaded this summer on Bonnie's computer, right now I am listening to Elton John's "Your Song."

3. While I was trying to think of a number three, the song switched to Frank Sinatra's "Fly Me to the Moon." My mom and her sisters love this song, and play it very often when they are together. My grandma loves Frank Sinatra. I really am convinced it has something to do with their being Catholic, the appeal of Sinatra. I really dig him too, and have bought a couple of his albums in this last year. Today is Sunday, I was thinking about going to church a couple of days ago, that I should really bike downtown this Sunday, that it would be a good activity for me, that it would ground me, perhaps redirect my thoughts towards greater causes (see number 4).

4. Greater causes: [A little sidenote: right now, I am listening to John Mayer's "My Stupid Mouth" - I think John Mayer is fucking amazing.] The sun is shining through Bonnie's blue curtain, through the top right hand corner of it, slowly descending further down the curtains, further into sight, meaning that the day is coming to an end - and I feel like I have sort of wasted it, that I have sort of wasted too many. I am going to go to work in a couple of hours and that'll be my day. I want to do things with my days, noble things with a noble heart, a pure one. I want to love this world more, I want to see this hazy sun every moment - to live with that Sunday morning feeling, to stretch out into afternoons, into nights, into seven whole days even. I really feel like I don't appreciate exisitng here in Sarasota, on this planet as much as I should, that too often I stress about silly things, spend my time! my fucking time! I spend it investing energy into these silly things - that I just need to dance through life, and smile at people I encounter, most of them at least. I need to cool the rage in my heart, or at least redirect that rage, channel that energy into positive affirmations of you. Living life with more care, with less caution. And there is a quote from "Y Tu Mama Tambien" that has stuck with me ever since the first time I saw it with Sarah Patnode in a crowded theater in Arlington. Sort of. The quote is one of two things. I cannot remember exactly, but the spirit of the message remains, "Life is like the surf, so give yourself away like the sea." I am going to give myself away, to stop being guarded, I will submit to god, to life - and they're the same thing, you silly zealot.

5. On Wednesday, around noon, I will be flying out of Sarasota airport to go home for Thanksgiving, and I am real excited to see my mom, to see my sister, to see Virginia, to feel its even chillier weather and to gather clothes to wrap myself up in, to bundle up in, to feel warm in. I want to feel warm in general. I do feel warm, but clothes, big fuzzy ones will just help solidify this feeling of warmness.

6. By dad called at the beginning of last week, left a message on my machine, I have not talked to him since probably July - I really had no desire to talk to him. The message freaked me out so much, it was a nice friendly message, but it was not what I had expected to hear on my answering machine at all, I have been so succesful at removing him from my life, of pushing him to the back recesses of my mind - the message just brought up all those horrible things to the front, to consciousness- and I was really pissed, really mad, and was going to not call back, to do my best to ignore him, but my anger dulled into a feeling of obligation and I tried calling the cell phone number back that he left, but luckily is was out of its service area or something. I feel bad for not wanting to talk to him since he is dying - but it just is too much, or was too much emotional shit that I am really not capable of dealing with, it is stuff I just don't want to have to deal with. Now that I am ready to embrace life, to accept the natural cycle of it, I am not as hesitant to talk to him. We'll see if he calls again.

7. Today is possibly my last day at Domino's, unless they schedule me to work on Tuesday.

8. I sat through the first half of "The Family Reunion" last night, and it was so fucking painful, so bad - but I knew that I couldn't leave until intermission, and during that time that I had to sit there, I thought about lots of this stuff, how sitting there was such a waste of time, was not benefiting my soul at all in any way - if anything, it was having a detrimental effect upon it. At intermission, I ran out of Sainer with about half of the audience, and felt that I had been given a reprieve, felt that I was alive again, that life held promise and potential, stuff better than already bad TS Elliot poorly performed, that I was motherfucking alive, and the air was chilly and it felt good - a little rush of adrenaline from leaving, from escaping modernism, entering instead into a positive affirmation of culture, of the world, of our lives for god sake's, entering the getaway vehicle, and making our way down Bayshore Road laughing.

9. I made a secret admirer card for Ben Haber yesterday and stuck it in his mailbox, half jokinlgy, half seriously.

10. And I think that that right there is the secret recipe for succesful living, for a sincere engagement with the world: half jokingly, half seriously.

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

coup part two: success

I went out for Chinese food with Beki, sobered up, stole chocolate, drank tea - and settled in for another long game of Scrabble against Jamie. And I have won! By 18 points. 267 to 249. And now on to bigger goals, bigger battles, the war between my schoolbooks and me, between better living and the type I live now, a battle for my soul, or whatever you want to call it. I will prevail, I know it. I am going to go read some Rilke, some Tolstoy, am going to live art, live life, and beat it, beat my old self by at least 17 points. More like 17 million. As Jamie would say, "Right on!"

How will part 3 play out?

a failed coup

Yes, it is four something o' clock on a Wednesday afternoon, I have tons of work to do, and I am completely smashed. I have just lost Scrabble by nineteen or so points to Jamie.

At around one, Jamie asked me if I wanted to play Scrabble and I was feeling game, feeling sharp, feeling like Jamie's winning streak could come to an end this afternoon, that the feeling was right. Jamie is the Scrabble Queen. She has not yet lost Scrabble to anyone she has played with in our house. She possesses the Scrabble skills, kicks our asses every time, and triumphs with strategic placement of Q's and Z's on triple letter scores, putting her big words down, saving them for the double word scores. And, it is really a little outrageous how she always wins by so many points - I thought the game was based on luck, determined by what letters you had available to you and what letters were on the board to build off of, but I now see that there is a Scrabble way of thinking, sort of like Chess, where you have to visualize the board really well and what plays will happen if you put a word where someone can build off it and get double, or god forbid, triple points.

And well, I was in the Scrabble mindset today, going head to head with Jamie, and for a brief span of the game was winning!, I would be ahead by a few points or down by just one or two, and it seemed so close, so close - to the day, to the moment where Jamie would no longer be undefeated, where I would have beat Jamie in Scrabble - but we were also drinking wine as we were playing. Or, at least I was. And as I consumed more wine, practically the entire bottle, my Scrabble mindset was drowned in the aromatic white wine being guzzled into my system. And I really think that this is why I lost, that if I had stayed sober, or not gotten as drunk, than right now I would be gloating that I defeated Jamie Seerman - that she was not the queen of Scrabble.

And yeah, life is good these days, this today especially. I turned in two papers this week, both of which, before writing put me in extreme states, set me off into extreme crises of confidence - where I did not want to write the paper just hours before it was due, where I seriously weighed the option of just not writing it and dropping out of school. But I did it, did both of them, and turned them in. And now, I am just insanely behind in my readings for class, have a Blake presentation that I am supposed to present this Friday. Yikes!!!! And well, life is not so bleak as it was a week ago. It is never that bleak I am realizing.

There is a boy, his name is Sean, and I like him, and that adds a certain glow to the act of living in these days, makes me happy, makes me think that the world is, that everything is so right-on, to quote my roommate, the one who likes to say right-on, the Scrabble Queen. I have a cat. I will soon be switiching jobs. I masturbate frequently and life is generally good.

And I came to the library to read Tolstoy, to sober up a little bit and get some goddamned motherfucking work done, to read that wacky Russian realist, and I found a passage that I underlined a couple days ago when I was having this dread of life, of schoolwork, when it was all seeming like entirelly too much to be handled now, to ever be.

"There was no answer, except life's usual answer to the most complex and insoluble questions. The answer is this: live from day to day; in other words, forget. But as he could not find forgetfulness in sleep, at least not until bed-time, nor return to the music sung by the little decanter-women, he must therefore lose himself in the dream of life." (16)

And yeah, that is from page 16, I am probably 10 pages further than that, but am so much further than that passage, than Stiva's world-view then, light-years beyond it, and we are supposed to be at around page 300 or so. I am so so behind with regards to the pages, bu you know, whatever. I am going to read, I am going to correct this situation. But yeah, that passage no longer has the same appeal with me - I no longer identify with it. I want to go swim in pools yesterday. I want to go home and masturbate and not read, and fall asleep into a drunken comfortableness. And maybe I will. Maybe. This world's a wild one, as Cat Stevens would have said before he converted to whatever his name is now.

Saturday, November 16, 2002

family feud

I am sitting on a green chair, my cat is sitting on a blue chair right next to me, cuddled up, asleep. My cat! For most of my life, I have had an aversion to cats, thinking that they are just wicked little animals, but this cat is so nice, so not wicked, winning my heart over with its little meows when it is hungry. We have named the cat Sake. It followed Jamie and I home from the library a couple of days ago, and it has stayed with us since then, as if this had always been its home, going outside through our kitty door, but always returning, to us, to 8418 Cypress Circle, cuddling up next to us, sleeping in our beds, letting all of us invest affection and love into the cat that we, for whatever reasons, do not share with each other.

Last night, the three of us, the house, Jamie, Bonnie, and I tried playing a board game, Scattegories - but it turned out bad, things got tense, and the game dissolved in probably under ten minutes. I am really intrigued by board games. There is the poor communication aspect to domestic spaces that games serve as a sort of solution to, that hey, I'm bored, let's play a game, a forced attempt to relate and engage with one another, to be jovial. And then related to this, board games often are the site of domestic tensions and conflicts, where underlying tensions erupt into a feud over whether something is a valid answer or not. The constestation over answers seems to often be a way of contesting other things, domestic issues. I have noticed this whenever my mom's huge family gets together and tries to play a board game, usually Trivial Pursuit - there are always heated arguments, the game gets far more tenser than it should rationally be, as alliances are formed between teammates that (I believe) bring up old hostilities about sibling alliances (my mom has eight siblings) - and someone will often end up leaving the game, drunkenly crying.

And yeah, last night, I challenged one of Bonnie's answers. Piranha for Things Found in the Ocean. I was sure piranha was a freshwater fish, and I was determined to find out, to not let Bonnie get the point, I got online and once away from the game realized that I really did not want to play, told Bonnie and Jamie that I was quitting, went in my room to read, and heard Bonnie and Jamie arguing over answers for a couple minutes before Bonnie also quit, saying she was going to bed (at around midnight on a Friday - Bonnie who never falls asleep before at least three). I went out into the living room to read, did facial masks and ate cold leftover pizza with Jamie. A while later, Bonnie emerged again, and her and Jamie started playing the mountain game - I was thrown off the mountain - and I just could not take it anymore, the casual rudeness that is so common in this house, that seems to be the only way that we know to relate to each other. I stomped off into my room, slammed the door, and told Jamie to leave me the fuck alone when she tried to see if I was being serious. I was. We all were. The games just brought out our hostilities towards each other - allowed us to not interact on any meaningful level - allowed us to not show love, fucking love for each other.

That is what we have the cat for, that is why we are all so excited about having a cat - because we allow ourselves to show love towards the cat, we can purr with it, talk in baby voices, call it kitty in stretched out broken up yodels, ki-ttt-eeeee. The kindness that is in each of our hearts, that finds no outlet in this domestic setting, in our stinted relations with each other, has found an outlet in a stray cat - the love which we will not allow ourselves to share with each other is now directed towards Sake.

All I want is a little kindness in my life, perhaps this is why I found myself knocking on Sean's window last night after I escaped Cypress Circle and made my way to school, knock, knock, knock, waking him up, talking to him in excited tones, just wanting his company, his held hand. Getting it, holding his hand while I talked to him for that short while, before I left to go meet back up with Rebecca and so that he could go back to sleep. The talk going fairly well, fairly lovely. I have kindness inside of me, I wanted to share it with everyone I talked to last night, I wanted to live.

Thursday, November 14, 2002

ti de tis; ti d' ou tis; skias onar anthropos

I have just finished reading Murakami's After the Quake, and in a few short hours will go to discuss it with John Moore and my roommates. It was such a goddamn beautiful book, most definitly my favorite thing that I have read all semester - I am trying to think of something to do with Murakami - perhaps with my thesis, definitely with my life. But before that, before my meeting, I have to go sit through David Brain and my idiot classmates talking about Durkheim, who although I have not read, I am sure I will roll my eyes at my classmates' reading of him, and will watch that clock move so so slowly untill my meeting.

And after the meeting, I will bike like a demon to Domino's where I will work for eight and a half hours pounding out pizzas, and sometime during that, during those eight and a half hours, will put in my two weeks notice since Best Western wants me to work for them and I will get paid two dollars more an hour, and will be able to get all my homework and more done there.

Sunday, November 10, 2002


I woke up from thoughts of you two, woke up by myself, and went on a walk with Jamie to Shell to get cream to make coffee. We made a little detour to the library on the way back so Jamie could pick up some children's books, and I found Shel Silverstein's The Missing Piece. Shell brought me back to Shel. And I sat on our couch a short while later reading the book that I hadn't read in a few years, washing myself in nostalgic thoughts of childhood, of pasts, of might have been futures, and saw what a cool fucking book this was, saw howHedwig ripped off its idea from here, but even more so I saw myself reflected in the rolling smiley face, the power of literature, of its ability to tell us something about ourselves, something we think we already knew, but said in a way that let's us say "yeah, yeah - that's the stuff - right on," my life here in a children's book, all of ours, and something meaningful being said in so few words and with the accompaniment of basic ink illustrations about the human condition, about motherfucking life.

Until one day, lo and behold!

"I've found my missin' piece," it sang,
"I've found my missin' piece
So grease my knees and fleece my bees
I've found my..."

"Wait a minute," said the piece.
"Before you go greasing your knees
and fleecing your bees...

"I am not your missing piece.
I am nobody's piece.
I am my own piece.
And even if I was
somebody's missing piece
I don't think I'd be yours!"

"Oh," it said sadly,
"I'm sorry to have bothered you."
And on it rolled.

And on, I fucking roll. The rolling is the thing, it is what life is for Silverstein, what it is for me, and so all I can do is say "Oh" sadly when Andrew tells me to fuck off, when he tells me to do whatever the fuck I want with his bracelet that I was holding before I pissed him off, the bracelet I tried to hand back to him, but which he tells me to throw away. But, I didn't. I pocketed it, holding it to myself tightly, letting it serve as a subsitute missing piece. And "Oh" is said sadly again, said perhaps even more sadly when I see Sean and Andrew engaged in conversation for a long while after both had told me no, told me to take it back, I don't want it - makes me wonder if they ever did.

And on, I roll, I fucking roll. Rolling towards the next missing piece, leaving the wall to the soundtrack of the Rolling Stones' "Beast of Burden," singing along sadly, rolling all the way home.

Saturday, November 9, 2002

saturday afternoon - pancakes and a hard boiled egg for breakfast

I don't count.

Last night, I was fairly tired and really not feeling like trekking to campus to go to the wall. But, I did. And I did it by myself. Not because I wanted to dance real bad. But because of one motherfucking boy that I wanted to see, that I wanted to talk to, that I wanted to hold and grab tight. He had blown me off earlier when I saw him at the dance performance, but I like the abuse, I love it - and so, I had to set myself up for more. Life would not have that same glow, if I could not pine after some boy who rejects me, if there was not that game, if I were not allowed to play this role of the heartbroken boy.

And just as the script calls for, here I go, rehashing it all for the eightieth or so time since it happened, reliving it one more time, feeling shunned for whatever perverse feeling of attraction it allows. Action!

I walk up to Andrew and Drew Geer who are standing next to each other talking. I peek my head between them, saying hi, or something lame, something silly and entirely inadequate. Drew asks me if I will make out with Andrew, and this bright neon glow begins to emit from my heart thinking that maybe Andrew had been talking about me, and I as casually as possible said, "Yeah, totally." And then Drew told Andrew that he owed him ten dollars. And then there was a roll of the eyes by Andrew and something like, "Charlie doesn't count." At which point in time, I pressed to find out what the bet was - and Andrew was going to pay Drew ten bucks if he could get a hot guy to make out with him. Appearantly, I was ineligible for this. And so, I joined the fun and tried to find a boy for Andrew to make out with, asking this slightly obnoxious internet buddy of Sam's who was really cute - and he said that he would, but then Andrew refused to go over there, saying that it would be weird and embarrasing. I kept on trying to cajole Andrew to quit being a pussy, and someone, I don't remember who, but some idiot asked me why I was trying to get the boy to make out with Andrew, and why I wasn't trying to make out with the boy. And they missed the point, the fucking point is that I don't give two shits about some silly hipster boy in cut off shorts, that the boy I wanted to make out with was Andrew, is Andrew. And Andrew rolled his eyes a few more times before very pointedly walking off to do something with Drew. And yeah, fuck walls, fuck you.

I shaved my head today to the scalp because it felt good, felt cleansing, and now I am going to bike slowly down US 41, make my way to Domino's and make pizzas for the next ten and a half hours, rehashing the scene some more to myself while I hum along to classic rock pumped out of a portable boombox that sits on top of the oven.

Friday, November 8, 2002

"I am human and I need to be loved, just like everyone else does"

Just because there may be something, some bit of truth in all of it, I am going to try my damnedest, am going to do my best to see this, this truth, and to live like I know it, like I am a New Romantic in a David Bowie video, dancing in costume, living. In my Romantic Novel class today, I was distracted by the silliness of it all, by how silly Jane Austen can seem when placed next to Russians, when placed next to Greeks, hell - even when placed next to Franco-Czechs. I was looking at my notebook littered with Greek to English translations transcribed during Greek class, sentances that I am currently unable to translate on my own, but which hopefully by the end of this weekend which will be filled with diligent studying, I will be able to. And there were so many beautiful proverbs there, so much of this knowledge. One of them saidThere is no possession greater than a friend. I mean, and that is just the one I can remember right now.

The coldness ... an inappropriate choice of words. Seeing people on 41 in huge, wintercoats also an inappropriate thing. Chilly, yes. But cold, not hardly. Everything is relative, I guess though - and so this could be cold since normally it is sunny tank top weather. But yes, yes - the chilliness of late is doing something to me, to you, to all of us - and what it is doing is a good thing, a damn good thing making us aware, or at least more so, of our existences, of life in general and what any of it may or may not mean. I can walk along late at night and shiver slightly, can get the little goosebumps and feel the chill, the rush of life, of living, of me here, here right here in this not entirely warm enough shirt. Here in this inadequate shirt, we all shiver with delight. And it all makes me think of high school - this is what the weather was like in all of high school, in my recollected memories, it is this weather, just more gray. Getting dark at around five o'clock. Things seeming to be a little more silent, the streets, the skies - activity seems to be a little more sedate all around. And the slightly chilly weather. It was definitely chilier, but this is enough, the weather is enough to bring up those memories, to make me feel the ecstatic broodiness that this type of weather allows for. I have been more free with my body in this weather, have been craving hugs, sometimes even giving them, because there are all these memories of early morning rides on school buses, of waiting for them, of listening to the Cure's Staring at the Sea eight million times because that is what the weather, what life called for, and I need to be reassured, need to feel the warmth of someone else, but even more so, share this warmth, find some conclusiveness in a hug, that all of this is meaningful and true. And that is what it has been calling for again, right now. Because I am sixteen again and in that in-between with the knowledge that in a relatively short period of time, I will be out of yet another stifling educational institution and so I sing along to the Smiths and to Robert Smith and masturbate covertly at all hours of the day, whenever I can find the privacy, because my friend, that is what is what the weather, what life is calling for, for this.

Wednesday, November 6, 2002

optimism bound

America, I have a little question for you. Okay, a big one. What the fuck is wrong with you? America, I want to shake you hard, violently and ask what is wrong, ask if you are on fucking drugs, because honestly I can see no other reason, no other explanation. I am so fucking perplexed right now because I thought I understood you, I thought you understood me and that we had a good thing going.

At work, we had all been Jeb bashing and I was so excited to come home and check the election results, had my little fingers and toes crossed, hoping for the best, containing in those crossed toes, the boundless optimism that some, that I like to associate with America.

Alissa at work tonight asked me where I was born because I was singing along to every classic rock song. I said Tampa and did not bother to elaborate that I only lived there for three years before moving to Virginia. She said a knowing oh, that's why I knew all these Southern rock songs, because she's a cracker and knows them, but she thought it was weird that I knew them. And that comment made me happier than anything, that because I knew all the words to "Black Water," because I got really into it while singing it, that I was Southern, a cracker even, and most definitly an American.

And I biked home under the shining heavens, I biked superfast, wind flowing against my cheeks, my ass cheeks being pressed into my uncomfortable bike seat, and anything could have happened, this is the land of Speilberg, I could have flown on my bike into a full moon, could have done anything because this was Election Day and this was America, and we were going to decide what headlines we would wake up to tomorrow, we held so much power.

But now I am at home, looking in retrospect at those moments, considering them wishful thinking, naivete - and motherfucking goddamn shit, the question remains unanswered, a couple hundred thousand of you, here in my city, in my place of residence, my neighbors, you willingly voted for Katherine Harris. I don't understand, not at all. Jeb is bad enough, hard enough to grasp, but Katherine Harris? America, we need to have a talk. I fear you are acting out. Give me a hug, tell me what is really bothering you and let's attempt to work this out. There must be some way.

America, this is not just a Florida problem, not just the effects of the heat, I see crazy stuff happening all over, Senate candidates I was rooting for have lost to scary people. I need to know why. Explain it to me. What the fuck is wrong with you? And yeah I hear Robin Kinzer and Paul Outka both reciting the same Ginsberg line, and now I will be a reciter of it too, I ask sincerely, more sincerely than it may seem, but so fucking goddamn sincerely that I would slit your fucking throat if you questioned my sincerity, if you wanted proof: America, when will you be angelic?

Sunday, November 3, 2002

with these hands

I have more faith than you could hold in your hands. Both of them. A grocery bag or a backpack wouldn't help contain it either.

I have just left a horrible conversation initiated by psych major Bonnie on the subject of dreams and fate, and whether either of them have any Meaning. Rebecca, Jamie, and I said that they do. Bonnie started to revert to psych babble, and I do mean babbling, not engaging us at all, but spouting off shit, telling us that what we thought was bullshit even though she did ask us what we thought, and at that point I knew what was to come, that this was not well-intentioned, that Bonnie had a point she wanted to argue to us - and Bjork's Telegramwas playing in the background all the while, it still is - I miss you, but I haven't met you yet - and I couldn't deal with it - Bjork knows it and I do too, and I don't have the time nor the energy to engage in conversations with people that don't know this - that have lost something true and beautiful to an academic major. I am convinced being a psych major changes one's way of looking at the world for the worse.

A couple weeks ago, I talked to Jelena about how school was going for her and she said that she was going to study pscyh now, and I seemed startled and she said she knew, that it was weird for her to study it. That she believed in the soul and that it was so weird, so jarring to be in classes where everything was boiled down to some scientific reason that entirely failed to see the point in this, in any of this. And she seemed encouraged by the prospect of encountering a different way of looking at the world, that it would only expand upon her worldview.

Also a couple of weeks ago, I talked to my sister on the phone and she said that she was thinking about being a psych major, and I pleaded with her not to, to continue doing Cultural Studies, that I did not want her to think that way, that it would happen no matter what she said, that in conversations about fate, she would spout off bullshit enitrely irrelevant, enitrely uncalled for about how there is no higher power.

PCP was scary, there was low-qualtiy sound, scary males I didn't know, and even scarier people I did know. People on drugs are a little less pure, a little paranoid, a little sketchy and it sometimes makes me really sad to encounter it .

"From those sights / Take one ... there see / A work that's finish'd to our hands, that lays, / If any spectacle on earth can do, / The whole creative powers of man asleep." - Wordsworth

Boys I like, that I would love to do nothing more with than hold hands with and stare at the edges of lips, of not enitrelly comfortable eyes roving for something to focus on - these boys doing their own thing, doing whatever it is that thing is, that that thing has been.

And the only beautiful part is the day after, the stillness, the calmness that people have when they just wake up at twilght, that they rise as the sun sets, how deserted campus is during the day - people hungover, recovering, comfortably asleep on their little plastic mattresses.

That a dream can come true, oh, ah, I miss you(Wild horn blaring that makes you want to dance with this knowledge).