Tuesday, September 30, 2008


WCW--c'est bon for me right now. The preface to Kora is always great, especially the letter from Stevens.

My morning commute to work is especially pleasant now. I ride past the lagoon at about sunrise.

Money is so abstract. All this value.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Magical 777


I am listening to Joan Jett while my next door neighbors are having a party. My go-to "I'm alone" music is usually the Psychedelic Furs, Joy Division, Jefferson Airplane, or Tori Amos. So, today I'm branching out because I need something that rocks and is less moody.

No men appear to be at the party. Large groups of women out on the town (such as it is) or at parties is a common sight here in north county.

On my mind:

I'm exhausted with hating and obsessing about the US government and economy. I often feel like it's got to be some kind of accident that I'm a US citizen. I barely grew up here, and half of my family still lives overseas. I often feel like I'm in the middle of an alien, embarrassing homeland. Reading Leaves of Grass and Spring and All helps. But.

New ESL session starts tomorrow, new class. I'm teaching 8-11:30 instead of 8-1. I'll miss the money, but 5 hours of that kind of teaching every day is too much for me. Preparing vocabulary and conversation questions/topics that will help the class discuss all the recent news.

Starting a new online class, one I've taught before. I'm ambivalent about online classes, but it's better than nothing for students who can't otherwise attend an on the ground class, and I'm getting better at teaching them.

I have no retirement funds since I'm still in the process of paying off dept. Oh, I take it back, I had about $1000, but obviously less than that now. However, other people I know do have substantial retirement accounts, and I hope that today wasn't too catastrophic for them.

It rained today. Hard. With thunder and lightning. This is quite unusual for around here, but perhaps it bodes well for the fire season.

My little sister Allison has been writing a "long, rambling manuscript" that she won't show to anyone. This makes me happy.

I hope the places where I work remain solvent.

There are many grapes that make good wine.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Wilted, slightly revived


This last cycle of teaching was difficult. It's not always fun to be a representative of my country and translator of its politics and culture to my ESL students. I get tired and start imagining that I'm an old Australian man living in the Marquesas, or maybe the captain of a freight ship. I know. Being the captain of a freight ship would probably suck, but never mind, I like port cities.

If I were moderately independently wealthy, today's fantasy involves Croatia. If I were just plain independently wealthy, today's fantasy would be about Barcelona.

And, dear friends, please don't feel the need to caution me with well meaning, paternal advice about recklessly buying international real estate. To be reckless with real estate, I'd have to have the funds to do it. Rest assured, I don't. Maybe I'll buy a fancy perfume sample in my continued quest to find the perfect citrus scent, or a whole watermelon instead of half a watermelon.

Maybe I will reread all of Laura Riding's Progress of Stories, or something from the pile of new books on my desk--I think the one on the top is from Tarpaulin Sky Press. It better be good.
Lookout.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Lives of Dead Bugs

They thrive on the hoods of cars, for example.

Today's alter ego is split between Jam Master and Achy Le Fevre. Other alter egos include: Little Lord Summerfield, Cakes, and Prudence.

Here is a picture of one of my forefathers, Sir James Graham (1612-1650):

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

My Sisters are Fortunate

They live in Australia, go to an international school, and have dual citizenship in Ireland and the United States.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Needs

Less working for money more working on writing

More vacation

Fewer injuries

New running shoes

More energy

More time

More watermelon

More focused students

A raise

Fewer flat bicycle tires (less glass on the road)

Fewer hallucinatory dreams

An alternative to wall-to-wall carpet

New ESL texts

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Last Day of Summer

At my cousin's wedding in Maine, several of the men wore Nantucket Reds, and the women wore pearls (I brought some pearls with me but didn't end up wearing them). It had been a while since I'd been in a polite, yacht club environment, but I was able to draw on all of my sailing and preppy vocabulary to make conversation. I remember in high school that I vaguely wanted to get some boat shoes, but they were rather expensive, especially for someone who didn't sail very often. But even the people in Maine who don't sail can sail--the coastline and waterscape demand it. So, I took lessons at the Blue Hill Yacht Club for a while in high school, raced a little, and went on sailing trips, etc. But I never became comfortable with sailing with a spinnaker, and I wouldn't feel comfortable now navigating on a long trip, or even a short one now. I've forgotten a lot.

There were several graduates of my high school at the wedding, all friends of my cousin. I knew some of them because I'd taught them swimming lessons at Nichols Day Camp. One confessed to having had a crush on me during camp and said that I should come "party with them" after the reception was over. It seemed good natured enough (his girlfriend was there and thought it was funny), but I was tired, and didn't have the stamina for more alcohol. I admit that, ridiculously, I was feeling old, and felt weird about partying with a bunch of guys wearing Nantucket Reds reminiscing about their days on the sailing team at Dartmouth. And the fireplace in the cabin where Mom and I were staying was quite nice. And it was pouring rain.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I was supposed to be meditating and focusing on my breath, but when I did that, all that happened was I saw the word "breath" in various fonts

I'm grumpy.

Today during savasana I tried to list all the ways that my life has been/is/was materially affected by the Bush Administration. I can think of numerous ways that other people's lives have been drastically changed. But truly, I can't think of very many ways my life has been affected.
  • My job outlook is poor, but it's always been poor. I do well enough somehow anyway.
  • Now that it's even more difficult for students to get visas to study in the US, more students go to Canada, and so enrollment is lower at the places I teach. However, it hasn't really been lower than usual. I have fewer students from Africa, and more wealthy students from Europe, especially Milan.
  • Real estate is messed up, but I never owned real estate, and even with prices "low" now, they're still way too expensive.
  • The price of gas is still high. I don't really drive much, and have structured my entire work life around not driving whenever possible. Mark and I share a car, which he drives 15 miles to and from work three or four days a week.
  • I suppose we've taken less road trips than we might have otherwise taken.
  • The rising cost of living in DC coupled with increasingly unstable and unpleasant work possibilities would have caused Mark and I to leave DC, even if he hadn't gotten the job at CSUSM. Mark's job at CSUSM and the general growth of this area has a lot to do with suburban development based on 1) the military and 2) real estate. These two things are at least partly responsible for our move to San Diego county.
  • 9/11 and post 9/11 Bush policies really enlivened the careers of anyone working in international security, as I was when 9/11 happened. Several people I worked with wrote white papers and press releases and were promoted. A few went to work for the DOD or defense contractors, one went to work for the Millenium Challenge Corporation (which, despite its name, is in fact a government agency). I promptly left my job and got an MA at Georgetown. I didn't do an MFA because Georgetown gave me better funding and Carolyn Forche was more or less gone from George Mason. Aggravatingly, it would have been a better professional choice for me to do an MFA. But who cared about MFAs then?
  • The dollar is down. Going to Europe is harder.
  • Health Insurance is worse. However, in California, it is still possible to get free birth control, even in a county where Planned Parenthood is always surrounded by anti-abortion protesters.
I'm thinking about this list for several reasons. I feel all overwrought about the elections, as I always do. I care about U.S. politics and think it matters who wins, but this feeling isn't personal--it's very abstract and vague, which is part of why it's so aggravating.

I get annoyed with friends who talk about not voting because they can't bear to compromise their moral values, or voting Green (as I used to do when I was a DC resident, since voting in DC is nearly like not voting at all). I rehearse my argument that a Democratic president means Democratic bureaucrats and Democratic interns doing the fact-checking for all the documents and all the research that informs policies, and that this slight difference in perspective is important, regardless of whether or not the actual President is effective.

I think not voting in any election year would be idiotic, and also a sign of just how materially irrelevant a change in administrations actually is for many of us. Maybe if the cost of gas were $9 then voting would seem less about abstract values and feelings and more about basic things like eating and living.

Not that that would be especially good, either.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I don't worry about love or sports, so the only things left at times are politics and students (i.e. work).

Sick of worrying about the elections. Sick of worrying about work, or, rather: bored. Que mas? I'm taking my bike to the shop tomorrow for its 6-month tune up. Y al mismo tiempo I need to think about cleaning my study, as usual. Sorry. No especially exciting thoughts. A student gave me a nice bar of German chocolate, and Mark bought some Oktoberfest beers. Also, I made a green curry--more Indian than Thai (cilantro, mint, jalepenos, baharat seasoning, coconut milk). Editing and getting final responses from people on a forum I'm moderating for Area Sneaks on visual poetry. Working on the cover for Terminal Humming.

Left hamstring is slowly recovering. I still can't do a forward bend like I used to, but I don't need compression when I practice asana now, so that's something.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Without Nuance

Probably many of us who vote aren't significantly affected by the government to have enough of a perspective on the very real differences between a Democratic and a Republican administration. I don't mean that we aren't affected. I mean that we feel like we aren't.

I don't worry so much about the President (though I worry about that plenty) as I do all the low and mid-level bureaucrats who will loose or get jobs based on the next election. I don't want Republicans as heads of the various foreign policy desks at the State Department, for example, and I don't want someone fresh out of an internship with the Heritage foundation to be doing their fact checking, either. Oh for the days when people with PhDs in German literature were on staff at the NSA.

CNN just advertised the next "Larry King Live" with the tagline "Sarah Palin, Up Close."

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


There's an interview with me online at The Scrambler, as well as a few of my visual pieces, including the one above.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The oldest daughter of my oldest cousin on my mother's side is getting married

I not really a wedding person, but I'm not not a wedding person. Either way, I'm going to Maine tonight on a redeye. Think of me at 6:30 am on the east coast, when most of you will be asleep. I'll be in Newark trying to get some breakfast and waiting for my flight to Portland. It's been ages since I've been in the Newark airport. Ah, nostalgia.

San Diego to Maine is about the longest trip one can take in the continental US--but Maine can be beautiful this time of year, and I'll see family that I haven't seen in a long time. Maybe 10 years for some of them. I'll post pictures.

And I'm still, yes, still, writing up notes from Vancouver, which will appear here eventually.

xo