Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Systems bore me. I sometimes need them. Not everything I need bores me, fortunately.

Nearly done with my cover letter for the community college jobs. After I finish writing a cover letter, I feel disembodied. Cover letters are uncomfortable points of contact with discourses from which I feel various degrees of alienation. Of course, my alienation isn't limited to the professional world.

I am not alienated by Lester. We communicate exceptionally well with each other, and we're not even close to being the same species.

I feel this way (alienated--who wrote this?) even after this particular cover letter, where I get to talk about things I care about and even find interesting: teaching. how I do it. literacy. why working at a community college isn't at all a kind of second choice wish.

Monday, January 29, 2007

6:30 was early

My ESL class is only 5 students--really almost a perfect size.

I am reading my Chinese book, 101 American Customs. Here the English text from "Passing Out Cigars":

"In primitive ceremonies an individual blessed with the arrival of a baby shared his fortune with the community, to avoid the envy of both his fellows and the gods. The smoke of a proud papa's pipe drifting toward the heavens was a sort of appeasement to the heavenly powers. Today's father's distribution of cigars to celebrate the arrival of a baby maybe regarded as a modern variant of this ritual."

And "Demolition Derbies":

"Demolition derbies are large-scale automobile rodeos that take place in large arenas. The entrants pay a fee to drive their dilapidated autos into each other, and the last car moving is declared the winner. Demolition derbies reflect the Americans' fascination with cars and provide a form of entertainment whose main appeal is that of wanton destruction."

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Market Research

I spend a good two hours today filling out application forms for various community college jobs. Why, O why, if you ask for my CV, do you also want a tedious form containing the exact same information? I have a long, complicated employment history. I am so f-ing professional! Why do you want the form? To file, of course, but why else? It seems like a lot of effort for a position I'm unlikely to even interview for, but I need to go through the process.

I got a hand blender this weekend thanks to Mark's dad. It is very exciting. I made a smoothy this morning, and then I used the food processor attachment to blend spices for the marinade I made for the fish this evening. Yay! It chops! It blends! It fluffs and whips! It is small and easy to clean! Goodbye (broken) blender and food processor, goodbye!

I start teaching ESL again tomorrow. I am a morning person, sort of, but anytime before 7 is really too early. Tomorrow morning will be too early, but I will be awake. I will explain present unreal conditionals. The unit I'll teach is about sleep deprivation, so I'm sure we'll all have plenty to talk about.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

I'm going through six months of chapbook acquisitions.

Right now I'm looking at several from the H_NGM_N Chapbook Series #1. I like the title poem of Dorothea Lasky's Art. Let's examine why I might like it.

First three lines:

There is a goodness in the world
Little boy named Bill, birthday June 9th,
Who has a smile like my father's

I read these and think, "ah, this is flarfy, who could ever use the noun 'goodness' without irony?" And then I think, "Bill's birthday is close to mine (June 11)." So far I cannot articulate a concrete reason why I might like this poem, other than the fact that 1) the word "goodness" makes me snicker and 2) it reminds me of my birthday. Specifically, it reminds me of my childhood birthdays, because Bill is a little boy and not a man." The poem continues:

And it is Matt who wants to marry me and there is goodness
Like the sun and the sound of children
Even evil children are good in their voices

So now I think, "oh, yes, this is flarf. More goodness and children. It's too precious not to be flarf. I find the move from goodness to the little boy who reminds the speaker of her father to marriage and then back to children stomach-churning and predictable. But it is ironic. But is it interesting enough? Not sure." The poem continues:

And the thought of beauty is something
That will always bring me back
Because beauty stitches and love regards

"Flarf flarf flarf. What the hell is 'beauty,' anyway, other than something that 'stitches.' And here I think of heart-shaped needlework hanging in a kitchen, maybe near the window that says something like 'bla bla bla love regards.' But is it nice to make fun of people who like to cross stitch little heartwarming (almost wrote "heartworming"), if clichéd phrases on things and hang them in their kitchen? It's smarmy; it makes me think of my own connection to smarmy-ness." The poem continues:

And Justin, age 7, made me a charcoal drawing
Of an ice-cream monster and said "Where's Dottie?"
So he could give it to me and I would hang it up
Needing is good you see
You know needing is good
It is good to need each other
It is good to love and I do
I do love

I have to go back and read this a few times because I misread "needing" for "needling.

"Children and animals show up in some flarf a lot, I suppose, because...children and animals are precious? Sentimentalized? I am thinking of 19th century American poems about dead children.

“I like the fairly standard lyric/incantatory repetition of "need" and "love" in the last four lines. And yes, I like how it ends in a tone of melancholy hope. I am a sucker for this kind of ending, and it seems rather sincere after all the goodness and children in the first half of the poem. It also makes me think of Lisa Jarnot’s work and Juliana Spahr’s recent work—though only because of the use of repetition (and yes, I know that other people use/have used it, and that it’s not new, etc). So, I like this poem, I suppose, but mostly because of its sound and mood, not because it is saying anything especially interesting.”

I’ve not talked about the title, “Art.” As in, this is some art? Oh, I’m done with my “reading” for now..

Friday, January 26, 2007

Whenever I start to think about mythology, I worry about my poetry.

After having Middle Eastern food for most of last week, I am going to make meatballs and a basic marinara sauce tonight. But we did get plenty of stuff to make more Middle Eastern food this coming week. Well, probably starting tomorrow.

I've had Typhon on the brain for the past few days. This is because I am still reading The Idea of Wilderness and am now reading about the Egyptians and the Greeks. Typhon isn't in the book, but he was Gaia's last son (by Tartarus, the big void under everything) after Zeus had driven all the Titans out of heaven. With Echidna (the worst female monster in Greek mythology ever) he fathered several major Greek monsters, including Cerberus and the Sphinx.

But I was thinking about Typhon because the book talks about several basic pairs of dynamic oppositions like:

nomad / farmer
water / land

And then it talks about shepherds and farmers in Genesis, and then I started thinking about the goats in Oman, and how in the cities and towns they often had no shepherd and just ran around eating garbage, but outside of the cities and towns they were usually accompanied by a shepherd. Often a woman.

And then I started to wonder, what animal would be considered the "Goat of the sea," and then I thought about Capricorn, which is sometimes called the "sea goat" for reasons I forget, but something to do with its position in the sky. And then there's a story of how Typhon chased Pan into the water and Pan's legs turned into a fish tail.

And Typhon is kind of associated with the sea. He sometimes causes storms or steals Zeus' thunderbolts.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Ultimate

Small bird play gym!

We are not rockstars even though we rock

Not even a little.

Things I want to write about (starting with fears):

1. Fear of producing really crappy "visual" pieces and then having it be published because I am a woman.
2. Fear of going back and doing any kind of sound text stuff.
3. Continued interest in some kind of a "performative" aspect of reading, without really any interest in becoming a "performance" poet.
4. Continued interested in seeing/participating in pieces that use language and movement/dance/gesture (inspite of what I said in #3) that are not either 1) really cheesy 2) too much of a muchness or 3) overly-determined by theoretical implications.
5. I am glad that POD exists and is getting better, but it also means that I trade with people less often. Therefore, I have less new books and am reading fewer new books. This is not true of chapbooks. I can afford chapbooks and trade chapbooks. So I have read many new chapbooks.
6. I want to write more reviews, but I want to write reviews that are interesting and usefull, not just la la yippy yo, etc.
7. Fear of not seeing enough art. Fear and aggrivation.
8. Fear of paying taxes.
9. Frustration with poetry trends. This is vague, I know. All trends. Even the ones I like.
9.5. Fear of strange allergic reactions.
10. Feeling burdened by the weight of Muriel Rukeyser's Collected, but wanting that kind of weight. Wanting something saying something.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Things that are true

1. I like jelly beans.

2. I will be teaching ESL again soon. Starting next week. Getting up at 6:30 for a bike ride is going to be harder now than it was during the summer. Yes, it's warmer here than it is in many other theres, but it's cold enough in the dark and the morning. Especially on a bike. But I like a morning bike ride--it will wake me up. And I like teaching ESL, especially to intermediate-advanced adult students.

3. I like the educational Animal Planet shows, but not the reality ones like "Animal Cops."

4. Two new cookbooks have been helping me make more interesting veggies, especially greens.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I'm worried about the spine

Will it be too small? Is it too large? I don't trust/understand formulas I haven't had the chance to derive myself so I don't trust my particular calculation. Thoughts anyone? How did you all calculate your spines? Did it work? Advice?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Small Fry

Today Small Fry had a job interview in Solana Beach for a teaching position at a private high school--English, history, French, Spanish, & Chinese. Small Fry has never taught Chinese before.

After the interview, Small Fry road the bus home. Two women on the bus spoke to each other about all the times they'd been to the emergency room, and which emergency rooms they liked best, and how sometimes you just have to take a little extra medication to get high, and how sometimes they ride the bus just to have something to do.

One woman kept asking the bus driver "do you think we'll get to Carlsbad in time to catch the 4:30 bus?" and after a while he stopped answering. The man sitting behind Small Fry said, "that woman's trouble," as if he and Small Fry had some kind of shared understanding.

Between Palomar Airport Road and Cannon road there was a three car accident, so the bus had to be rerouted. Small Fry went up to the front of the bus and said to the driver, "Let me off!" He looked at her and said nothing.

Another woman on the bus, wearing a pink sweat suit and carrying a foot long black flashlight, glared at Small Fry. "He CAN'T let you off the bus," she said. "He can't let you off the bus with your shirt cut SO LOW!" She gestured at Small Fry with the flashlight. Small Fry did not think her shirt was cut low--she had just been at a job interview, and was dressed quite modestly.

Small Fry poked the bus driver with her index finger and said, "Let me off now, sir, I don't want to stay on this bus." Her voice was probably tired and small. At this point, the bus was in the middle of a major traffic jam on Palomar airport road, and the woman trying to make her 4:30 bus connection was even more upset.

"What did you want?" The bus driver finally said to Small Fry.

Small Fry looked at him and blinked. "Let me off," she said.

A man in a beat up suit came up to the front of the bus and stood behind Small Fry. He said, "Driver, let me off this bus, I have to piss really bad!" The driver opened the door and they both got out. The man smiled at me and said "have a good afternoon, babe!" Then he pulled down his pants.

Small Fry walked the mile and a half back home. Then she and her faithful parrot, Pudding, ate leftover chickpea stew.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The color of purple cabbage / eat me

is lovely. And the indigo color of water in which purple cabbage has been cooked is equally lovely. I almost dyed a shirt in it, but I don't know anything about the permanence of such a dye.

I made cabbage leaves stuffed with rice, green lentils, and various spices. Very good, although it will be some time before I can actually roll cabbage leaves (or grape leaves) so that the filling doesn't fall out.

The Paleolithic era was not a time of communal unity and oneness. It wasn't the dark ages either.

I've never even read Gustav Sobin's The Fly-Truffler, but it irks me. After young beautiful fragile wife (and former student) dies, hero eats truffles and thinks of her, thinks he is consuming her. (Dead) woman comes to embody the spirit of land and language.


Saturday, January 20, 2007

Wilderness, cooking, company

Mark and I had a very typical pleasant Saturday for us--we went for a walk in the morning, did some errands, went out to breakfast, and then spent the afternoon sleeping or in contemplation. We saw a whimbrel! We also saw many ruddy ducks enjoying their duckdom.

I've been cooking Arabic food recently, and it was fun to test a few dishes out on Sara and Joe yesterday evening. We had the last of a salad made with arugula from their garden this evening. Yum! I miss gardening. More cooking and company soon, I hope.

Uh, and job applications, bids for contracts. I complain, but I still like it better than my previous full-time jobs. The more I am supervised, the less happy, productive and responsible I'm likely to be.

I'm reading The Idea of Wilderness, by Max Oelschlaeger--a late holiday gift from Mark. I've only just begun, and so am still in the Paleolithic era. It's interesting to me how much this first chapter reads like a Freudian/Lacanian description of pre-mirror stage/separation from mom. Even though Oelschlaeger goes to a great deal of trouble to say things like "The assumption that Paleolithic people were mere children in comparison to us, a later, adult phase of humanity, is dubious" (16), the descriptions of Paleolithic people's "harmony with rather than exploitation of the natural world" (17) and Magna Mater give me pause in a (perhaps boring) feminist way. I'll be interested to see how/if the book looks at the (perhaps rather predictable) parallels between wilderness and the feminine it seems to be setting up.

This quote from Lucy Lippard pleasantly skipped me up with the word "ambivalent":

"Visual art, even today, even at its most ephemeral or neutralized, is rooted in matter. Transformation of and communication through matter--the primitive connection with the substance of life, or prima materia--is the rightful domain of all artists. Add to this the traditional, and ambivalent, connection between women and nature, and there is a double bond for women artists." Oelschaleger quotes this on page 23, but it's from Overlay: Contemporary Art and the Art of Prehistory (New York: Pantheon, 1983), 51.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Right. I am not on vacation anymore.

I am also not sick anymore, or at least my cough is almost gone, and my lungs aren't so junky.

I dreamed/dreamt that my mom and I met in Heathrow airport to catch a plane to Papua New Guinea. The plane was delayed, or canceled, so the PNG airline booked us two train tickets to Urdu, and then a continuing flight from there to Port Moresby. I was very excited about taking a train to Urdu, and Mom was calm and kept making very funny sarcastic comments.

I think I know how Urdu came to be a place and not a language in my dream. Last week my sisters (Michelle and Sarah) were talking about studying Spanish. Sarah has also studied some Italian and commented on how similar the two languages are. So I told them all about Latin. About an hour later, Michelle made up a story about the island of Latin (actually, an archipelago from the way she described it, although she didn't use that word). In the story, Latin was an island in the sky surrounded by other islands (French, Spanish, Italian, Romanian, etc...).

Monday, January 15, 2007

~*~Womb Poetry Vol.1 : Hives & Covens~*~

dedicated in memory to kari edwards

* t h r u m *

: kari edwards : Eileen Tabios : Barbara Jane Reyes : Elizabeth Treadwell : Ann Bogle : : Alison Cimino :Susan B.A. Somers-Willett : Amy King : Kristy Bowen : Julie Choffel : : J.B. Rowell : Ebony Golden : Jenna Cardinale : Juliet Cook : Susan Morrison-Kilfoyle : : Holaday Mason : Toti O'Brien : Jessica Schneider : Karen McBurney : Sunnylyn Thibodeaux : : Sarah Mangold : Meagan Evans : Jennifer Bartlett : Marcia Arrieta : Michele Miller : : Priscilla Atkins : Anne Elezebeth Pluto : Marie Buck : Michalle Gould : Anne Heide : : Susan Meyers : Melissa Eleftherion : Susan Settlemyre Williams : J. Elizabeth Clark :

* s p a r k l e *

: Danielle Pafunda : Kathryn Miller : Julia Drescher : k. lorraine graham : Karen McBurney : : Michelle Caplan : Marcia Arrieta : Ashley Smith : Annette Sugden : Christine Bruness :

* c h i m e *

: a chapbook by Julia Drescher :


Indulgence / It's been a year since I left DC

January 12, 2006
Just me and Lester in this now empty echoing space. I just made a last gin and tonic and then poured the last of the gin down the sink and remembered how I poured a bottle of Great Wall red wine down the sink one evening in Beijing and then road my bike around the 4th ring road. Bach's solo cello sonatas. I like obvious dramatic music as a background to all this leaving. Nights on the roof of the Ramada in Guangzhou watching the fires of the boat people. Watch them brush their teeth and then rinse their mouths out with green tea. Yes yes I know many things are lovely at a distance and who does the abstracting matters.

And one from either late January or early February 2006
The ocean goes all the way to where it stops. I'm wearing a floppy hat again today, and I greeted Pete the manager of our apt. complex this morning by saying "how have you been?" A high school friend found me on myspace and wrote "have you had any babies yet?" Someone I knew through someone I knew professionally once said "women don't matter, only babies." She ate a vegetable kebab and said it tasted good, but we were all suffering from February hostility. I found a drivers license, a pack of cigarettes, and a pack of gum in the parking lot. The kid was born on April 12, 1984, which means he hasn't been of age even a year. I'm going to throw the gum and cigarettes away and leave the license by the mailboxes. Maybe I'll carry it around for a while. I wonder if he has a megaphone in his car.


When an insane person you don't know follows you and screams at you, you can't scream back because when you scream back you might be insane. I used to frequently feel this way in CVS in DC. Sometimes the crazy person you don't know is angry enough at you to kill you--the Chicago mayor at the World's Fair, for example.


A male terrier with a rhinestone collar. "You probably don't want to pet him." But of course I did.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Oh, San Diego--You don't even know why you lose!

Loose/lose and element/elephant are two of my most frequent spelling errors.

New vocabulary: chuang3kung1men2--to intrude into an unguarded house for the purpose of steeling.

  • Chuang3: a horse rushing out of a gate. To rush. Charge. Run a red light.
  • Kung1: a hole with the phonetic radical gong (a pictograph of a carpenter's square. Work. Worker); Empty. Sky. In vain. Merely. Free time. Vacant. Unoccupied.
  • Men2: A double-leafed door (door leaf, household). School of thought. Class, course.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

I need a jumpstart, like, everyday

I "read" Lucky (the magazine about shopping). I am happy every time they feature a pair of nude-colored heels or platform shoes. Or, better yet, slingbacks.

I really do think about Lester the green bird as much as this blog suggests.

I like movies about teen angst.

New vocaublary: shimau--fashionable, stylish, vogue.
Ta shi yi ge hen shi mau de nu ren. "She is a very fashionable woman."

Friday, January 12, 2007

I'm back in San Diego. I won't go into details about the idiotic mistakes I made relative to my flight details. Or the idiotic mistakes made by British Airways. But I am home, feeling groggy and still a bit sick--I don't normally weep over movies, on the airplane or anywhere else, but I did weep off and on from London to LA, so I must have been tired. Paul Bowles' story/essay "All Parrots Speak" from Their Heads are Green and Their Hands are Blue: Scenes from the Non-Christian World did me in:

"Two parrots live with me now. I put it thus, rather than, 'I own two parrots,' because there is something about them that makes them very difficult to claim as one's property. A creature that spends its entire day observing the minutiae of your habits and vocal inflections is more like a rather critical friend who comes for an indefinite stay" (p. 155 in the 1984 Ecco Press edition).

Their Heads are Green and Their Hands are Blue is not Paul Bowles at his best, but it is still very good. It reminded me how good he is at creating visual texture and describing sounds.

Lester is in good health. He sang and went through his verbal repertoire from the time we picked him up to the time I'd finished putting his cage back together. Now he's sitting in his food dish, eating and singing. He also took a bath even though it's quite cold. I can't say if he missed me or not, but he was certainly glad to see us, and seems very healthy and well-adjusted. I think he was in good company while we were gone. According to the woman at the font desk, Lester's cage was next to that of a Sun Conure, and they spent a great deal of time talking with each other.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

My plane leaves shortly after midnight tonight/tomorrow morning. Today I'm packing, headed back to Azaiba Beach to collect more shells to weigh down my bags, and going to dinner at a restaurant that serves "Omani" food. I'm not sure how Omani food differs from, say Lebanese food, or in what ways--people are very friendly, but not very forthcoming with cultural information, so I've learned to ask my questions in roundabout ways. I've been enjoying the street/cafe food here, but am interested to try other things.


From the sewing/garment section of the souk today:
  • khol
  • lipstick
  • embroidery thread
  • various sorts of beaded ribbons and trims
  • stamps for making patterns on clothing (or paper)

Monday, January 08, 2007

There was a cruise ship in Mutrah today, so the port was full of people speaking German, and also men possibly from Kuwait (although they didn't come off the cruise ship). It was the first time since I've been here people assumed I was a tourist. Usually, they assume I live here or have family that does, and they want to know what project my father works on, etc. (Bechtel. Aluminum smelter in Sohar).

There doesn't seem to be a commonly accepted system of transliteration for Arabic like there is for Chinese, for example. Pinyin makes no phonetic sense to an English speaker--but I'm not sure any system of Chinese transliteration would. But pinyin is helpful. Arabic words written in the Roman alphabet will be spelled several different ways, depending on who is doing the transliteration and who is doing the pronouncing and where and when all of this happens.

I like Mutrah (or Mutra, or Mattra), but I would, I'm a tourist, and Mutrah is an old port with narrow twisty streets and old forts and old cemeteries and mangy dogs and scrawny cats and nasty smelly overflowing garbage cans and old buildings--some restored, some not--that Mary says remind her of Baghdad (especially the wooden balconies) and fishing boats and commercial ships and a souk with a mosque so close your brain will vibrate with every call to prayer and coffee shops and old hajis with long beards sitting on stools. There are no goats.

Mary and I did a short but fairly steep hike up over the mountains from Mutrah to Muscat and back along the ocean. We passed a small abandoned village. The cistern still had water in it, but the aflaj had broken down. The houses (or ruins) were made of stone, unlike those on the coast. The trail followed a wadi for about half of its course, and the wadi had some water in it, and the water had tadpoles in it.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Responsibility sneaks back

Sarah admires her sand angel somewhere on the northern edge of the Wahiba Sands:

Things to do, some pleasant, others not:

1. Send work to Area Sneaks (this one is long overdue, but finally I have something I think is right for it)
2. Finish several reviews with February deadlines
3. Finish editing the 16 short articles I took with me to edit
4. Lable all my Oman pictures on flickr before I get on the plane
5. Buy a few remaining gifts and such at the souk
6. Make macrame and shell necklaces with Allison
7. Hike the old road between Muscat and Mutra (tomorrow afternoon)
8. Copy Mary's recipes for dal and naan
9. Finish a typesetting project
10. Write bids for a few upcoming projects & send my resume to two organizations
11. Complete applications for tenure-track jobs at a MiraCosta Community College.
12. Exercise, eat well, walk across the floor on my hands, buy real estate in Paris & Istambul, etc.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Five things

There's plenty to say about the camping trip, but I've been tagged by both Cathy & Ian and responding will take less time than detailing the camping trip correctly. I've uploaded some pictures already and will continue labeling them tomorrow.

My list feels arbitrary, since there are a lot of things that we all don't know about each other--thank G-d. But here are five of the things you might not know about me:
  • I have been stalked.
  • This poem is true.
  • My father's mother was Comanche and my father's father was named Julius Ceasar, although he changed it to Julius Cecil.
  • I have had bells palsy twice. Bell's palsy is a form of temporary facial paralysis. The actual paralysis is caused by damage or trauma to facial nerves, but what actually causes it is unknown. Scientists think it might be a virus.
  • When I was 6 I had a crush on Tom Selleck and used to watch Magnum PI with devotion and also High Road to China over and over again.

I will tag more someones later.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Ali, Sarah and I at the Grand Mosque in Muscat--we visited this morning. Technically, Ail and Sarah don't have to cover their heads, but they wanted to because Mary and I were. The sun was rather bright, that's why they're squinting! I may go back tomorrow because the visiting hours for non-Muslims were almost over by the time we arrived.

We also attempted to drive to the Lansab Lagoons, a well-known birdwatching location close to Muscat. It's supposed to be especially good for seeing raptors of all sorts. However, our information was totally inaccurate (thanks a lot, Lonely Planet!), and we ended up in a military construction zone. It was beautiful but we turned around immediately when we saw the Ministry of Defense sign. I wish they'd posted something sooner.

I looked at the Azaiba area on Google Earth--something I should have done in the first place--and it looks like the lagoons aren't anywhere near where Lonely Planet says they are. So we're going to try to go back and find them tomorrow. I'd like to see some eagles.