Monday, November 24, 2008

Since I haven't been able to do as much travel, recently, I prefer to experience my alienation in malls, box stores, and domestic airports.


I started to respond to one of Ryan's comments on my recent brief comment on alienation, but it got too long and too rambling, so I'm making it a separate post.

I think confusion is often a kind of lazy alienation. What Ryan describes reminds me of a kind of sadness I've often felt, and sometimes see in my friends and students--a dissatisfaction without really knowing the source. Or maybe not even dissatisfaction, since that's rather precise. General malaise. Vague sadness.

Vague sadness is irritating. It's irritating to experience and it's a drag to hang out with someone who is vaguely sad. If you're sad or confused, then why not try to figure out why you are sad or confused. And if you're not trying to figure it out, then that sadness or confusion must be serving you in some psychological way. I'm not against perverse neurotic insistence on one's own sadness. Oh, maybe I am.

I'm a jerk. On the train back from LA yesterday, Mark and I sat behind two women. One was perhaps in her late 30s and the other maybe in her 60s. They spoke very energetically and happily with each other about everything from the Iraq war to gay marriage to Christianity to their favorite craft stores to how wonderful children are. Their conversation was amazing for several reasons, but mostly it was amazing because each topic eventually turned in to a joyous affirmation of Jesus, children, and family values. They were at times completing, in that yoga class way I've talked about, with each other to be happy. They did not seem estranged from the traditional communities of which they are a part. They were high-spirited.

Doesn't Buck Downs have a line that goes something like "alienated but not insulated" ? I'm often attracted to alienated people who understand and accept the sources of their alienation. Such people are often confident and fun at parties. I'm attracted to the people, not their alienation. I suppose you could identify alienation as a lifestyle choice, but then you would be, well, confused. You can't choose to have feelings of estrangement. If you have them, you have them; but you can decide how you're going to respond to them.

One reason why I used to move around a lot and spend as much time in foreign countries as possible was because the way that being a foreigner or being distinctly different creates a very specific source of alienation is a relief. When you literally are a stranger, then being estranged is not so mysterious. That's not to say that it feels better, but I'd rather feel alienated in a foreign country than alienated in my own country. My love of Jane and Paul Bowles cannot be underestimated.

Friday, November 21, 2008

I think my peers should write about their alienation in more interesting ways.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I have a cold and Lester bit me

Half of my class was absent today for legitimate reasons. One was taking a driver's test and the other two have the same cold that I am now developing. Lester did bite me, very hard. But, to be fair, he was sitting on my arm, and startled by my sneeze. Series of sneezes. When I blew my nose, it was too much for him. Hence, the bite.

Monday, November 17, 2008



Today is one of those days when I feel dramatic and unsatisfied. On days like today, I want to recite John Donne. I'd like like to do something absurd around my peers and competitors that would later be described as both admirable and disgusting.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Lester enjoys the sound of belt sanders

But not the sound of:

coughing
sneezing
crinkling plastic bags
tin foil
tape
boxes and packages being opened
thumps
the electronic toothbrush (unless he is in the same room as it, and then he likes it)

Saturday, November 08, 2008

My neighbors, who live in the apartment (or possibly condo) complex just behind ours and closer to the train tracks, are blasting cumbia music, which makes me very happy.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Monday, November 03, 2008

Sucking it up


I have planned my blue outfit for tomorrow. I've already voted. I don't feel calm about anything, but for now there is nothing to do but wait for results and hope that there are results by tomorrow evening. Please vote for Obama if you haven't already. A Democratic presidency might help decrease the number of wars our country wages and restore some small ounce of fiscal responsibility. I'm not holding my breath for universal heath care though, or actual money spent on education. I wish, though.

I am trying to finish my statement of interest for the MFA program.

It's getting dark, and Lester has fallen asleep on my knee.

I've been thinking about my least favorite asanas. I have two: Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (upward facing dog) and Dhanurasana (Bow Pose)--both are upward facing backbends instead. I'm not a big fan of sticking my chest out. Urdhva Mukha Svanasana in particular makes me feel like I'm a bust carved into the prow of a ship. Or a hood ornament. I never feel like it's actually opening my chest or shoulders. Instead, I feel like my shoulders are up around my ears and my wrists are going to pop off. Dhanurasana makes me feel heavy. Instead of opening up the front of my body, I feel like my knees are going to pop off.

I find it interesting (to use the blandest, least specific word possible), that my two least favorite asanas are poses that are meant to open the heart chakra, build courage and stamina, and create energy that encourages us to reach out toward others.

~

I am back from yoga. We practiced my third least favorite asana: Virasana (Hero Pose)--yet another asana that opens the front of the body. I have eaten a nice pear. I have made a list of all the good things about being in an MFA program and having an MFA. I have congratulated myself on...I forgot was I was going to write, so that means I have forgotten about what I congratulated myself on.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Mat and Stan read well.

Maybe I will go to San Francisco in between xmas and new years, and enjoy the wondrous pain and socializing that is MLA.

I advised someone to not transfer to CalArts for his last year of school because he would go into debt.

Lester enjoyed hanging out late and talking, and even stood on Mat's finger.

I wrote my statement of purpose for the UCSD MFA writing program.

I'm feeling overwrought about the election like everyone, but revived after two weekends of poetry and socializing.