Monday, March 23, 2009

Elisa Gabbert and Kathleen Rooney were here for a few days to give a reading at Cal State San Marcos. While they were here, I learned several things.

1. A hipster is, basically, a kind of socialite, or sometimes just a wannabe socialite, with trendy alterna-style. Hipsters are to hip as beatnik is to beat.

2. Some of my peers are, like me, deeply suspicious and even totally against marriage.

3. I learned about The Sartorialist, which has an entire section devoted to people on bicycles. I'd never wear any of the outfits that the women have on, but I really wish I could get away with dressing like this guy. Don't worry, I can't. I'm not an art director living in Milan. My problem is that I don't just ride my bicycle down the street to the coffee shop/bar. I ride it six to twelve miles up and down San Diego county roads, and in between riding I teach. And, ahem, all the New York bikes featured on The Sartorialist were total hipster bikes. I think I need to do a whole blog post about stylish outfits that can survive six miles of hills on a real bicycle, plus a bus, and possibly even a train. Do any outfits actually exist?

4. I am late to the whole tag-cloud trend, but I am amused by it, still. "Body," "head" and various forms of "decapitate" are apparently some of my favorite words to use. I guess I'm not over that whole body-mind thing yet.

5. There are disputes over the right way to write an exquisite corpse poem. I enjoyed having the disputes, because it seems rather supremely ridiculous to argue about the correct way to play a Surrealist parlor game.

6. As Kathleen demonstrated, red lipstick is very wearable, and also, as Lucky Magazine recently noted, weirdly minimalist. I wore red lipstick today during my bicycle commute, and to teach. My students were fascinated and a little freaked out. We talked about color and tried to list all the kinds of red, blue, and yellow we could think of. People (ok, boys) yelled out their car windows at me. Was it the spring fever, or was it the red lipstick?

7. You can read more about their visit, as well as Kathleen's book tour, here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I wanna be a male model

Everyone has their own form of smelly disgustingness.

In an attempt to send off work in a timely manner and not irritate people who have kindly asked me for work, I've printed up several things. I think that See it Everywhere might be finished. It's my most unwieldy manuscript to date, and I really need someone to look at it who could help me make it both coherent and unwieldy at the same time.

I suppose that is what MFA workshops are for. Oh, I am exited by and fearful of the MFA workshop.

Everything I write is serial, too. I don't write discrete poems. So, I have trouble choosing sections to send to magazines when they say, "send 2-4 poems." I wish editors would give me a page or word count instead. I sound like I am complaining, but I'm not. I'm happy people like my work and publish it sometimes.

I have work in Abraham Lincoln #4, along with many other fabulous peoples. Buy a copy! A single issue is still only $5!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Seriously. Sunday.

If I ever get to teach a developmental English class where I am allowed significant control over what I teach, I won't require them to answer questions like "What are the different kinds of paragraph development? What are the six sub-categories of expositional paragraph development?" Instead, I'd have them write a lot of personal essays, and maybe do one final project that was kind of persuasive or argumentative.

This week, I graded 93 essays describing "someone" the students "know" (not my instructions). I always find grading this assignment heartbreaking, because the paragraphs typically demonstrate that the people writing them have, like all of us, very deep and profound feelings, but they don't have language to articulate them. Moreover, the curriculum of the class that I'm teaching (which, again, I didn't write and which totally sucks) doesn't give them language to articulate them, or even really talk about the difference between abstract and concrete. The _best_ students describe their wives, husbands, boyfriends, parents, grandparents, children, in the most abstract ways: "To know him, you must get to know him" or "her hair is of fragrances unknown." It pains me to read sentences like this.

I've often ranted about how lacking the language to articulate something abstract means that you don't understand your feelings. I half believe that, but I also know that there are ways of articulating feelings that are not verbal. So, the challenge for many people when they write is to articulate feelings in writing that they don't express in verbal ways. I read my student's paragraphs and think about all the young students I have who marry so early, and then divorce so early, and have children, too. I think about the arguments they have with their lovers and spouses--and how they don't seem to have language to articulate to themselves, let alone to someone else, how they are feeling. It freaks me out!

I remember saying to one of my best students at CSUSM: "Dump your boyfriend and move to LA." I'm sure that was inappropriate of me to say, but I had to--she was so intelligent and smart. However, I know she didn't dump her boyfriend and move to LA. She said she liked "the lifestyle" here. She lived in Temecula. What was it that she liked about living in Temecula? It certainly wasn't the beach. So what did she mean by "the lifestyle?"

When I was young, I got bad advice from my family and friends. My students are young, and they also get bad advice from their family and friends. But the advice they get is worse. Too many of them are married with children before they are 25. If you have no college degree and 2 kids and you are 25, your life is going to be hard. It makes me so angry. I want to slap their parents and friends and the newspapers and their teachers. I remember thinking some version of "why didn't someone tell me X?" all the time when I was 25. Why don't more people tell their students and children and friends "dump your boyfriend and move to (insert city name here) or "you don't have to get married" or "I think it's a great idea to get the fuck out of here" ?

Monday, March 09, 2009

Trying to type up drafts of drafts. I've put a few more up on my poem blog: See it Everywhere.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

It's Sunday, Again

This afternoon Mark and I got a daylight savings time 3:30 drink. I saw a little pig--it looked like a little dog until 20 feet away, and then it was clearly a little pig. I said hello--it came over to me and oinked into my hand and rubbed against me briefly while I scratched it's grey/pink bristly coat. I didn't have enough time to ask the guy with the pig questions, like "what kind of a pig is it?" and "will it get any bigger?" and "what does the pig like to do?" I did learn the pig's name. Dear readers, the pig's name is Hamlet.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

I need games to play while I'm waiting for the bus in the fog at 6:45 am in the moring.

In part because of a current writing project, and in part because of recent thoughts/discussions about the gurlesque and the grotesque, my recent game is this: if everyone in my family were characters from a horror film, novel, or short story, who would they be? I'm not going to tell you my thoughts just yet (or maybe ever, unless I finish the project and someone publishes it). But the question lead me to think about female characters in horror, and then female perpetrators of violence in horror, and then to dynamics where the violence is specifically or mostly female-female OR where the major dynamic in the film is a relationship between two women.

The two that immediately came to mind were Alien 1 (Ripley vs. the female alien monster) and Suspiria (female protagonist discovers that her ballet school is really a cover for a coven of witches). Below is a list of others that immediately came to mind. Tell me what I'm missing--and yes, I know that this list is full of mostly films in English from the Western part of the world, but I suspect if I started looking at some of the recent anime other's have pointed me towards, I'd find more:
  • Carrie (girl with telekinetic powers is abused by crazy Christian mother, eventually destroys her school, is stabbed in the back by her mother, but then telekinetically crucifies her mother with kitchen tools)
  • Succubus (duh)
  • Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla (female vampire!)
  • Rosmary's Baby (Not so female-female violence, but it is a pregnancy horror)
  • It's Alive (Also about the horror of babies)
  • Friday the 13th (it's actually Jason's mom who is the killer, not Jason)
  • The Ring
  • Psycho (maybe only half makes the list, because the mom is dead, but she still exists as a taxidermied version of herself and in her son's head)
  • "Ligeia," by Edgar Allan Poe (also only half on the list--a woman inhabits another woman's body, but it's a male fantasy)
  • The Brain that Wouldn't Die
  • Lair of the White Worm (mostly female-male violence, but some female-female violence)
  • Dagon AD (The fish girl--although it's mostly about her trying to convince her brother that he should mate with her so they can live under the sea together forever)
  • Dracula's vampire women should get a mention, even though they are clearly subordinate to him.
  • The Exorcist (Definite mother-daughter thing)

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Agitprop Reading Series: Amina Cain & Saehee Cho, Saturday 3/7, 7pm

We hope you can join us this Saturday, March 7 for the next reading in our regular space at Agitprop Gallery (2837 University Ave in North Park, entrance on Utah, a few blocks west of 30th Street), featuring Amina Cain and Saehee Cho. We often serve wine and snacks, and
donations to the gallery are always appreciated.

Amina Cain is the author of I Go To Some Hollow (Les Figues Press, 2009). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications such as 3rd Bed, Action Yes, Denver Quarterly, Dewclaw, Emohippus Greeting Card #2, The Encyclopedia Poject,La Petite Zine, Sidebrow, and Wreckage of Reason, and has been translated into Polish on MINIMALBOOKS. Recordings of her stories exist as part of the exhibition "A Diamond in the Mud" at Literaturhaus Basel, and the Moles Not Molar "Transmissions: Signal to Noise Ratio" radio show. Recently she co-curated When Does It or You Begin? (Memory as Innovation), a month long festival of writing, performance, and video. She lives in Los Angeles.

Saehee Cho is an MFA candidate at Calarts whose fiction has been featured in Shrapnel and Ex Nihilo. She holds a BA in Literature/Creative Writing from UCSD and currently resides in Los Angeles.

We hope to see you there and for all festivities afterward!

Saturday, March 7
2837 University Ave in North Park. Entrance on Utah.

I have a webpage! I have a css technical question!

Today I have some announcements and some related technical questions.

1. Announcement: In the past six months, several people have asked me, where can I find your visual work, and I've said "uuuhh." So, I've been working on a webpage. It's still very much in progress, but if you'd like to read even more information about me:

2. Technical Question: Does anyone know how to make a background stretch to fit not just the width of the screen but also the height? I have several different background images, so here's what I've done in my stylesheet:

body {
background-color: #339999;

#background2 {

#background3 {

Then, I can make a div and give it either one of these backgrounds as an id and then make its width 100%. That works fine. But height 100% doesn't work.

Any thoughts?