Chimera Song Mosaic
Sunday, May 23, 2004
Also, looking back at my archives, I now note how much of an ass I am. My links have no meaning, which may be why I frequently (and perversely) want to link to some nonexistent page. Also, speaking of links, could someone tell me:

1. What happens when I link to something that has been changed, like I link to a post of January 12, 2003, and the blogger has erased it?

2. How do a link to a specific post, not the blog entire?

Thanks! That would clear some things up

[Look what I found under "Draft!" This new blogger format has some perks afterall.

Let me know if you've seen this before--I thought it was lost. I place it sometime around Christmas, but who knows? I never did post all those found postcards . . . I'll dig them up sometime.]

Speaking of When the Messenger is Hot . . . the last story in that collection is about a woman who sends out a Christmas card all by herself--no kids, no husband, just self. Her friends call her up in embarrassment--isn't this a mistake? But no, she just wanted in on the praise-for-your-very-existence-action.

Recently I bought (or "won") a bunch of fabulous antiques for very little money at an Hrydril's (pronounced "Hrad-yo's) auction in Sealy, Texas. Some of them had stuff inside of them, which you also get to keep. One old radio cabinet/ pie chest had someone's poetry manuscript in it. An old victrola case (just the case, not the victrola) had a bunch of yarn and embroidery thread--spools and spools and wads of it. Also, it had a crocheted barbie's dress, miscellaneous doilies, and some other great stuff--including a Christmas card that reads: "Merry Christmas; Happy New Year; Thomas D. Hines." You, Thomas, are you out there? It features the sole picture of a man with a side glance, a wee mustache, and a Johnny Cash shirt.

Also, I found some kid's drawings--the ones your mom keeps, but just a few of them. I've always wondered about the ones moms decide to keep. Not all, just a few. They have good intentions. Anyway, this one features some mimeographed sentences with blanks and some boxes where the kid is supposed to write in the right word. But this kid didn't know what was up. It reads:

I am a _____________. I stand out in the yard.


I am not happy when the _________ shines.


Do you know why? Sometimes even after the night has come the _________ shines in the sky.


Often there are many bright ____________ too.

One night when ____________ [THE MOON] the moon

was shining a ____________ hopped into the yard.


He did not know that there was an __________ in a

Can you make something else out of snow?

*Down at the bottom of the page, these words appear:

moon tree sun rabbit stars
owl snowman

And there's more: 5 postcards sent to Carnegie, Pennsylvania, in the summer of 1954. Here's the first one Lance read to me:

Dear Mrs. Jester

Trust you are having as
nice a time in the Sunday
School as I am having here
in the c****{illegible} it is
wonderful here you ought
to be along.

Your School Teacher
S. I. G--

It is addressed to Mrs. Dorothy Jester, Elk St., Carnegie, Penns--. The month is August, but I can't make out the year or the time, although since it is from the same office as the others, I think it is from 1954. It is postmarked from Waukesha, Wisconsin. It was sent with a red John Adams "2 cents 2" stamp. The front of the card depicts a drawn likeness of the post office in Waukesha, Wis., although I first mistook it for Monticello. It is a beautiful post office.

Two things upset me today when I went outside:

One, a BILLBOARD that read (in pink letters): "Vaginal Renovation!" Underneath these suspicious words was an explanation: "Tight, like Prom Night!"

Okay, not really. But it was something like that! Basically, who the hell would have surgery just to please someone else? I'd be different if it corrected urinary incontinence or something else that plagues women who have had children. But I can't abide the idea of a woman having surgery just to reclaim a second virginity. The virginity is a liability in the first place.

My husband said that he could see a woman getting the surgery "for her pleasure." No. It does not work that way. There is no advantage in a woman having a more constricted vagina. I also don't approve of men getting penis enlargements for the benefit of their partners. Besides, that's hardly analogous, since a penis is exterior, and the man benefits socially from a larger penis (at least when he wears a speedo on the beach or showers in public). This is hardly the same for women.

Second, when we arrived at the movies (one of those multiplexes) and stood in a long line to buy tickets, we noticed there were actually only six or eight films to choose from, despite the fact that this theater boasts 20 screens. Even though I really could use 3+ hours of seeing Brad Pitt in a stripper's outfit, I refuse to see Troy or Shrek II since the movie moguls are clearly trying to force me to see it. If 20 screens does not offer me more variety, it at least offers me an opportunity to see the top summer blockbusters with more people . . . Hmm . . . Hardly seems like what the movie-going audience desires.

So here's my list of films I refuse to see in the theaters (oh, yeah, I'm bound to rent them eventually or see them on pay-per-view): Passion of the Christ; Shrek II; Troy; Spiderman II (which actually looks pretty good and must be better than the first one, which wouldn't take much, and I'm intrigued by sequels that are better than the original . . .); The Day after Tomorrow (or some such bunk); anything put out by Disney. Instead, I will probably go see the sequel to Pitch Black with my sister.

It's not a complete list. I don't have time to go to the movies during the semester, so I might as well not go at all, I've decided, unless its to something like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (which I missed!) or unless it's at an independent theater (and now we have one! Cine El Rey is showing City of God and Bye, Bye Lenin! this summer, both of which I've seen, but I'll be out of town anyway . . .)

Anyway, in short, I will only go to the movies if I'm politically motivated to do so. Darn. Escapism was so much fun.

It's obvious to me that I am a crybaby and too sensitive to be out in the world.

Anyway, the whole reason why we ventured out was to see Man on Fire, and only because my students have been telling me how good it is. I especially was interested in the opinions of my students who were researching the missing women of Ciudad Juarez. They had been telling me how lifelike Man on Fire is. They say, "It's just like that in Mexico."

I usually shrug this off as a sensationalistic comment, or sometimes I think my students are doing what many recent immigrants do: justify the "abandonment" of their home by criticizing it. But for the past couple of years, more and more students have been telling me that the reason why many people are moving to the Valley from Mexico is because of corruption. This semester, two of my male students told stories that happened to them--they say it's a bad idea for a young Latino to cross the bridge on foot (cops stop them, scare them, then shake them down for a little bribe money.) I know this is all circumstantial evidence, but if I've learned anything as a teacher it's not to ignore the experiences and opinions of my students. Sometimes they have some really crazy ideas. But other times . . .

So what can be done about these kidnappings? It seems to me that movies like Man on Fire might, as my students say, "have it right; there's corruption at the highest levels," but the film also glorifies a very American ideal of a lone hero battling the odds and making a difference (in an unethical, but emotionally soothing way). The solution(s) won't come from one person, but could happen if many people decided not to stand for the corruption and kidnappings any longer. Why are the people afraid? The ones who should be afraid are the "criminals," the people who are willing to sacrifice others for their own survival. Of course, it is the rich people who are being sacrificed, which doesn't make them very sympathetic in the eyes of the impoverished majority. It seems so easy to blame the cops--people who are supposed to protect the citizens. But they are usually poor, too (otherwise, why become a cop?), and put into situations where they can easily take advantage. And so they do. So do the rich factory owners. So do the kidnappers. What is so different about any of them?

Enough. I don't really know what I'm talking about. I'm so upset about this. This disturbs me more than what's happening in Iraq--probably because that was preventable, at least on such a large scale. But this--isn't this bothering anyone? Man on Fire might not have any of this "right," but at least it brings some attention to something surely worthy of it.

Friday, May 21, 2004
120 Days of Solitude

This post will not be deserving of its title; I feel that intimately. However, I just got off the phone with Colleen Colby, who had a fabulous birthday yesterday (turned 29!), sent her a few links, browsed--nay, predated--some websites, didn't quite find what I was looking for, so decided to write my own. Isn't it always that way? But y'all are so quiet on the weekends. Out having fabulous lives, I suspect. Me, I have a freaky job and can mostly blog on the weekends, whereas others of you I know are blogging during mornings and post-lunch lags in the day-to-day weekday.

But who am I kidding? I officially stopped working as of last Saturday. Well, not stopped--I have been running around like a chicken (I guess) sans head (post geek) getting all sorts of things done that I had neglected during the course of the insane semester, primarily doctors' appointments (4 different ones!) and also this crazy Russian visa thing which is giving me a headache. Well, we shouldn't complain; Marisa and I are going to the Summer Literary Seminars in St. Petersburg, Russia, this June. Of course that's dreamy.

Cut to me sitting in front of the computer in a dark room (library) in the darkening atmosphere (sun setting thickly at my back). Since the semester is over and I can't cry wolf anymore about my students swallowing my free time live & whole, I have had to find yet another excuse to avoid writing a poem. Here's a good one: Anna Karenina. Some of you might remember I started the novel this time last year (optimistically referred to as "The Summer of the Russian Novelists." I don't even have to go back to my archives to remember this, the shame is so salient).

Anyway, needless to say, I didn't finish Anna Karenina. But I did get to several other novels in a year--perhaps tomorrow I shall list them and then feel better about myself. I seem to have very high expectations and tons of confidence in my abilities but not, leider, much tangible ambition, will power, or follow through. Ai!

I did read Eugene Onegin (better, since I'm going to Petersburg and not Moscow), and I'm on page 105 of 840 of Anna Karenina. Next is Crime and Punishment, Notes from the Underground, and lots of poetry (not necessarily Russian). Maybe I'll mix it up with Pale Fire.

But the point is that I am delaying writing a poem with yet more projects. The good news is that I have the same to do/read list I had last year, and from this observation I could perhaps conclude that I will keep this short list for years to come, progressing ever so minutely, and that eventually I will cross off every bit of it.

Which is why I can't have a baby right now! (Imagine the new to dos invloved with that!)

Other people seem to think it is a great idea!

Should I read Anna Karenina or bake cookies?

Why can't I do both?

It's so hard being a feminist!

The reality is that I can't do both, not well, at least. Other people need to realize this and perhaps stop lying to young women. Young men are moving further over into that gap, prioritizing parenthood when tradition dictates they choose job.

I can't stand it when people romanticize and simplify the past by saying, "Things were so much easier when . . ." But some things were--no? Some things were. I could get sucked back into the nostalgia pit, which explains the title, partially, and the rest of it . . .

Lance said: "You just need to be by yourself. Really bad. You need 120 days of solitude. Or whatever,"

And he's so right. I desperately want to be left alone. I could get so much done if only I were left alone. So my solution? I make plans to travel: one week in Houston, one week in New York City, one more in Houston, two in St. Petersburg, one week back at home in Mission, Texas, one & 1/2 weeks driving through the interior to Mexico City (which is what I did last summer, if you remember, but never wrote about it; it's so typical of me to drop the ball). So I won't be alone until mid-July. Then I will have a little more than a month before--yikes--fall semester. It seems so obvious that I really don't know what's good for me.

So should I bake cookies or read Anna Karenina? They are really good cookies (peanut butter blossoms), but she hasn't had the affair yet. What to do.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004
Ho, ho, ho! I'm gone for a few days, and blogger changes its interface. Hostility, die down . . .

In the News:

So sad that I won't be in NYC for Shakespeare in the Park's Much Ado About Nothing, my absolute favorite of his plays (more student-friendly than my other favorite, King Lear) that as a bonus features Jimmi Smits and two other personalities I recongize from TV dramas. Feeling a little psychic from that because of all the plays, they had to pick this one, then, I won't be there . . . and that just figures.

Feeling also psychic because my number one, LaToya, was kicked off American Idol tonight. LaToya, I have been with you since the start . . . I always said you would win. Now it turns out I have jinxed you by not voting on the one night I said I would. Sorry. Well, if it makes you feel any better, I plan to vote in the presidental elections.

Finally saw Total Eclipse by one of my favorite directors, Agnieszka Holland (check out the beautiful Europa Europa). Yeah, this is the one where a surprisingly cute Leonardo DiCaprio (he never did it for me before, but maybe because he plays a poet this time . . .) plays Rimbaud and gets it on with Verlaine and, you know, the whole shooting thing. The film really sucked, but I perversely have to say I was completely sucked in as I am fascinated by any depiction of poets, maybe the rawer the better. I hated Sylvia but maybe because I thought I knew better than the filmmakers and Gwynyth, whereas with DiCaprio I believed him and felt like I learned something. Plus people who stop writing fascinate me. Maybe Keats would have done that. How can we know?

This summer I am going to Russia.

Before that, I will be in NYC in early June, so if anyone knows of any poetry readings then, please let me know (cause that's what I like to do on vacation. I'm not kidding).

This blog must have turned one some days ago.

Somebody nicked my website.

On a sober and cynical note: I'm not shocked by the cruel pictures or the execution. Is this not the nature of war? I am very concerned and also very frustrated. Geneva Conventions: dash it all!

I am finally surfacing after two straight weeks of grading. I am not out of the woods just yet; I have a full day tomorrow before I turn my grades in, hopefully by 5 pm. But I am surfacing, after all, just to say:

My Life. Lyn Hejinian or Bill Clinton? "Doesn't anybody care about the fucking rules?"

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