Monday, September 28, 2009

The Sufficiently Hierarchical New Sir Sequels

This is the first complete week of classes at UCSD--but I don't have to be on campus on Monday, so I'm here trying to clean and organize my desk and put away my clothes.

Thus far, the only class I've attended is a graduate movement for theater class with Charlie Oats. It was incredibly fun, and the mime/walking exercises we did were challenging. On Tuesday I have a poetry workshop with Rae, and on Wednesday a class on Modern art movements with Michael. I'm TAing for John Granger's nonfiction class and one of two RAs for the New Writing Series.

Even though I've barely started, I'm already feeling exasperated--not with classes, but with being back in the structure of a university and having to deal with the irritations of interacting and being confined by said structure. Please note, I don't wish that I were still teaching ESL, or that I were still working in business, or even in public policy. It's just been a while since I've had to deal directly with the particular passive-aggressive type of behavior that academic bureaucracies (and probably most types of bureaucracies) enable. In a university, communication tends to happen indirectly and is always filtered through a variety of complicated channels--rarely does someone tell you directly what to do. Of course, there are things that you are absolutely supposed to do, and there are hierarchies, but one can't admit them directly (at least not in the humanities). It takes a while to realize the difference between a suggestion and a command.

I won't bore you all with the details of all the running around me and the other RA have done for the New Writing Series thus far, but it's been quite amazing. I'm looking forward to the Winter quarter when in theory we'll both know what we're doing, how things work, and where things are.

I organized my manuscript files, and found a half-finished manuscript called The Death of a Toad that's a kind of mashup flarf conceptual piece. I don't know what it is. As a manuscript, it suffers from theory head and a lack of energy, but it's full of ridiculous language. One section is called "The Sufficiently Hierarchical New Sir Sequels."

I feel dramatic and melancholy, and like most of the people I love and events I want to go to are on the east coast. It's been too long since I walked home from a party.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Tengo preguntas

¿Por qué el perro está raspando y en qué está raspando?
¿Hay un perro en la piscina?
¿Cuándo alguien escribirá una review del Tarareo Terminal?
¿Come se dice "How long will it take me to master hoola hooping around one leg?" en Español?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Summer is over, but I went to the beach today.

  1. SPD sold out of my book, so Rod has sent them more!
  2. I am impatient for reviews.
  3. Or, at least, stop telling my friends and my boyfriend what you think of my book and tell me instead.
  4. No autumnal clothes for me for a few more months. The best I can do is wear jeans and sometimes a light sweater, but that's pretty much true all year round here.
  5. Remembering how funny Dada is: "Dada will kick you in the behind and you will like it." I like the fact that they say "behind" instead of "ass."
  6. Jerry is coming all the way from Amherst to visit!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Now that I'm beginning something new, it might as well be over.

  1. Not bored with Language Poetry. Not bored with John Cage, either.
  2. I haven't even started classes at UCSD yet, and I already have to look for funding for next year from a grant database made for PhD students, not MFAs. Oh well. If I don't get funding for next year, I just won't go back.
  3. Been grading all. Day. Long. That's why I couldn't meet with you at 4pm.
  4. Convinced that real estate limits mobility. Unless one is rich or bought one's real estate in the 70s, 80s or before.
  5. Missing good bookstores.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Trip Report Part Five: Back in Paris

I've been promising the final installment of our trip report, so here it is!

Mark and I like to begin and end our overseas trips in the same place. This is partly practical, of course, since it's usually more cost effective to fly in and out of the same city. But I think it's nice to end one's travels in a place that doesn't require all the initial effort that getting to know a new place as a traveler usually does. After an easy train ride from Brussels-Midi to Gare du Nord (during which we ate sandwiches and some of the chocolate I'd bought), we easily exited the station (no complicated navigational moments) and walked down the hill to the same hotel in the 10th. It was too early to check in, so Mark went to check email, and I sat at a cafe and had a croque monsieur and a cafe creme, even though it was a little late for cafe cremes.

Another reason to return to a place you've already been to is because, inevitably, there are things you haven't done and seen that you want to do and see. Once checked into our hotel, we walked down to the Marais to visit the Carnavalet Musée de l'Histoire de Paris. The museum is in an old, Renaissance style hotel, and is full of paintings and other objects related to, duh, the history of Paris. The photograph above is a small section from Dubois' "L'espoir du bonheur dédié à la Nation." On the boat are Louis XVI and Jacques Necker. I am not sure who the robust, bare-chested ladies are supposed to be.

That evening, we headed down to the Latin quarter with Joe and Laura for some drinks and food.

By the time we got to the actual food part, it was rather late, but that didn't affect the taste of my duck confit, or the cheese plate we shared at the end of the meal. I wish I could remember where ate, but I see why that restaurant is a favorite of Joe and Laura's--it was warm, inviting, full of people, and served thoughtfully prepared versions of classic French food.

The next morning, we headed out to the Bois de Boulogne for a picnic, where we met Cole Swenson and Laura Sims and her partner. I don't think I'd seen Cole since Mark and I moved to San Diego. And even if my memory is wrong, it had certainly been a long time. It wasn't especially sunny, but we managed to talk, eat pate and lounge about successfully. Joe and Laura's son, Julian, played with the travel hoop I'd brought with me--it's the orange and red thing you see on my bag.

That evening, Mark and I had a very lovely dinner at an Italian restaurant back in the 10th, just off the canal. I don't enjoy going out for Italian food usually, especially in San Diego, where it's usually mediocre, overpriced and the waiters push bottles of wine on you that you don't want. I think that, somehow, the mediocre overpriced Italian restaurant is really a definitive element of San Diego food culture--and probably all US cities. Mediocre overpriced Italian food is ideal for those with unadventurous taste looking for a fancy meal. But enough of my rant. We had a leisurely meal of basically just a pasta course and some wine. The waiter didn't chastise us for only ordering one course, didn't try to sell us another bottle of wine, brought us a second carafe of water when we needed it, and generally left us alone to have a pleasant evening together.

On our final day in Paris, we went to the Cimetière du Père-Lachaise. Mark emphatically joked that he wasn't going to kiss any slimy tombstones, which was fine, but we did see evidence of other people kissing tombstones. I confess that I might have tried to at least touch the memorial for Abelard and Heloise, but it was being restored, so I couldn't get close enough.

Oscar Wilde's grave had the most kiss marks and attention--even more than Morrison's grave, which only had a trio of German punk girls burning candles.

No one was visiting Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, or even Colette, which was the last grave we visited:

I'll leave out the irritating story of our many failed attempts to eat lunch after our visit to the cemetery, and also of how difficult it was to buy tickets in advance for the train back out to the airport. Instead, I'll skip right to the end and tell you that we visited Joe and Laura again that evening for a drink and some final goodbyes, and that we made a salad for dinner in our hotel room.

So, how was our trip to Paris, Belgium and Amsterdam? It was wonderful. Alice Notley didn't move to Paris until she was in her 40s, so I have a bit of time to plan how Mark and I might move to Amsterdam (or Brussels, or Paris, or Barcelona--which we didn't visit on this trip, of course, but which is nonetheless one of my favorite places). Until we move, though, we'll just have to scheme about how to go back. Soon.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Countdown to MFA Land

I don't start classes at UCSD in earnest for two more weeks, but I have plenty to do in between now and then with orientations, paperwork, and obsessively calculating the best bus and train routes to get me from Carlsbad to La Jolla sans car. When I lack blogging energy, I resort to lists. So, a list:
  1. The picture above is of Lester, of course, on his jungle gym in my study. He's been especially happy and defensive of his jungle gym, and the small stuffed elephant he's perched on, ever since he realized that he could pull paper over his head there--just like he does in his cage.
  2. I've been teaching a weekly hoop dance class with Kristen every Thursday from 4:15-5:15 pm. We meet at Magee Park (258 Beech Avenue Carlsbad, on the West side of the 101 before the lagoon). I think I have about two readers from Carlsbad, but out and hoop with us. Bring your friends. The class is offered on a donation-basis through Bodacious Living Yoga.
  3. Speaking of yoga, two nights ago I dreamed that I was practicing on a very large flying carpet which was flying over a jungle landscape.
  4. My father's other brother, David, passed away last week from cancer. David's always been a bit of a mythological figure for me. When he and my dad were kids, David drove a railroad spike through Dad's shoulder (not long after they had started Sunday school). In the early 90s, a horse fell on his head and he was in a coma for two years. After he woke up, he came to live with me, my brother, Dad and Mary in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The night before he arrived I dreamed he barbecued our dog, Cabal. In fact, he and Cabal got along well. For a period of several months, David slept in our living room and wore his cowboy hat to my brother's cross country meets and my flute recitals. Eventually, he left when a woman got in touch with him about his son. He ended up living in Angle Fire, New Mexico, panning for gold and carving walking sticks. My aunt said that he passed away peacefully, surrounded by friends. I am dedicating all my yoga practices to him this week.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

A post about the last leg of our trip, again in Paris, is coming. In the meantime, please read Mark's post, Maintaining Quality of Education in California’s Public Universities, which has several links to information about how to become more involved in the struggle to maintain a quality education for California students enrolled at state universities.

Warning: the editorial in the Sacramento Bee is totally maddening.