Sunday, January 27, 2008


i think i’m doing that thing again, where i use this blog to procrastinate. it’s not like my homework is all that crappy right now, just some reading and posting responses online. but this is so much more appealing at the moment.

classes are going well so far. martin has been substituting for my poetry professor while she’s sick, and that class has been a blast. the assignment for this monday was to generate a page of words that are not our own, from any source, and then use not but those words to write four lines in iambic pentameter. at first i was going to try to use overheard dialogue for the page, but that became less appealing when i started to think about how hard it is to hear very interesting words in regular speech. i mean, dialogue is great for those dialogue-poem exercises where you use the actual lines (and don’t have to write in form), but it wouldn’t work so well for this assignment. so instead i pulled a bunch of books off my bookshelves and took lines from lots of different poems and stories and books. after i put them all together i noticed certain lines kinda followed each other. like here:

“He sticks two shiny fingers into his mouth, sucking so hard his cheeks cave in. He waits the slow striptease of erosion with fossil loins. Then she began to pull her hair with both hands, dying with laughter, throwing the handfuls into the air with an incomprehensible jubilation until her head looked like a peeled coconut.”

and here:

“The water was the kind of dark silk that has silver lines shot through it when it is touched by the wind. Naked grandeur where there’s nothing else to gaze on. Germinal, exquisite, in delicate lace, microscopic, unborn. Musical and strange and perfumed.”

it even ended appropriately, with a line from jack kerouac that almost served as an explanation for all the random craziness: “Friday afternoon in the universe.” i’m not entirely pleased with my resulting stanza. he said it didn’t need to make sense, but i thought it would be really cool if i could make it make sense—much, much easier said than done. this really was a challenge. but i adore these kinds of challenges! like the pageless poem in intermediate poetry, damn that was fun. here’s what i came up with:

Offending love he looped the air and gave
a bitter pull—then backward silver doll
unborn, as wild erosion stoned the cave.
Exquisite pain, unholy, touched with salt.

the “unborn” might not look like it fits with the meter. that’s kind of a weird word. when i say it aloud it almost sounds like both syllables are equally stressed, but if i had to pick one or the other i’d say “un” is the more stressed. here’s how i’ve justified it: it’s meant to function as a verb in this poem. when i say it as a verb, which i know is not standard use, “born” becomes more stressed. whether or not anyone else would agree or even notice that, i’m not sure. my first attempt looked like this:

Perfumed enough, the naked fleet began
a bitter beam—the backward streamers face
unborn, with jubilation on the land.
Exquisite nothing, breathing, being lace.

which makes absolutely no sense, but the b’s and ee’s in the first two lines (and parts of the third and fourth) give it a fun beat. if i could have made those repeated sounds more uniform i wouldn’t have cared at all that it’s nonsense. oh well. it was a good start, and obviously i was able to use much of it in the subsequent incarnations that lead to my final piece.

a mighty good use for a heavy stone

it looks as though we ordered a new computer just in time. this one becomes slower every day, and its mechanical death rattles more pronounced. first there was the Great Hard Drive Crash of 2006, which naturally occurred a week before i had a 9-page research paper due, and about two days before an even more hideous lit paper was expected. then the Malware Massacre of 2007, during finals week, of course. i never did manage to rid this dreadful machine of all its viruses and whatnot. the various lesser crises in between these titled events should not go unmentioned—all of them pushed me to the brink of luddism.

i feel guilty about getting rid of a computer that still functions, however slow and stupidly. it’s such a waste. the monitor is still good, i’m sure i’ll be able to find a home for it, along with other peripheral parts—but the tower; not only would absolutely no one want it, but it would be a security risk giving it away. i’d love to break it down and make things out of it, maybe some jewelry out of the innards. we’ll see. i’m going to make it my goal to send as little of it as possible to recycling.

i’m also anxious about trying to transfer everything over to the new computer, and set up the internet connection—goodness, when i had to set up this internet the first time it took me about eight hours, and it reduced me to tears multiple times. i don’t know if i even still have the codes and shit i need to install it. this semester a bunch of my classes have online requirements, with due dates peppered throughout the week—and my gender through the movies professor was just talking about how he doesn’t accept computer-related excuses for turning things in late. ugh. i need to do taxes too. not need so much as want. how weird is it that i love to do taxes? turbotax makes it so easy, and i revel in that sense of accomplishment afterwards. the cd-rom drive on this computer is broken though, so i can’t install my lovely tax software until the new one comes. that was the last straw, actually.

Friday, January 25, 2008

i wish i could fly to summer

"In the fields and woods more than anything else all things come to those who wait, because all things are on the move, and are sure sooner or later to come your way. To absorb a thing is better than to learn it, and we absorb what we enjoy. We learn things at school; we absorb them in the fields and woods. When we look upon Nature with fondness and appreciation, she meets us halfway and takes a deeper hold on us than when studiously conned. Hence I say the way of knowledge of Nature is the way of love and enjoyment, and is more surely found in the open air than in the school room or the laboratory. "

-John Burroughs

Friday, January 18, 2008

the kidnapping of madame duval, and the final monkey scenes

i’m determined to be more prepared for school this semester, mentally and physically. last semester i just never got into it—all my classes seemed to jump right into the middle of things, with multiple assignments due right away, and there was no easing-in—and even if there had been that slow period of adjustment, i’m not certain i would have been able to get focused and motivated anyway. i felt like i was dragging myself kicking and screaming the entire time. somehow i managed to pull off all a’s and b’s, but i hardly feel like i learned anything, and i certainly didn’t enjoy myself much.

this semester i over-booked on classes, because there’s always at least one class i end up hating and having to drop…so this time when that happens i’ll still have plenty of credits. in the unlikely event that i love all my classes…no, nevermind. why even bother speculating.

i had to order 17 books—over $400 worth, if i’d gone the bookstore route, but only about $70 from most if not all of them are in, and i bought a shiny new binder that isn’t half-broken and falling apart; i even filled it with paper and folders, and those little tab subject separaters. also, i printed out all the syllabi on blackboard, and three-hole punched them, and placed them under their proper subject tabs. i am so fucking on top of things!

my “women writers” class syllabus is 11 pages long, and it reads like misery. i’m pretty sure that will be the one to drop, because it doesn’t fit well in my schedule, and out of the 6 assigned books i’m interested in maybe one of them. pretty disappointing, because i love the idea of a class devoted to women writers. writing creative nonfiction class had a shit-ton of pages to print out, too—am i made of paper? crazy people with their verbose syllabi.

this winter break has been so relaxing and wonderful. despite being prepared for school, i really don’t want to go back. i think if i wasn’t so close to graduation i might take a year off, if not drop out. but maybe i’ll get lucky and have a great semester. they seem to alternate good and bad…it probably has more to do with the seasons and my moods than the classes themselves, though i do recall such horrors as math 124 and technical communication occurring in the fall semester.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

alternate definitions for "rubber-ducking"

i watched fight club for the first time last night. fucking inexcusable that i’d never seen it before. it just never appealed much…i’d seen one or two scenes from it that i didn’t like (out of context, of course), and also someone spoiled the ending for me (i won’t ruin the ending for anyone who might be reading this, but if you’ve seen the movie, you know the really really important thing towards the end? yeah, that)…anyway, i enjoyed it immensely.

yesterday i went shopping with my dad…costco, for food and new tires for my car, and then best buy, for a new tv (and, once we got there, a blu-ray player). in a mere four hours he spent significantly more money than i’ve earned all year. it was humbling, but fun. the new tv is unbelievable. and blu-ray is totally breathtaking…we were actually talking about blu-ray on the way there, and my dad was saying how he’s going to wait a while until they sort out the HD-DVD/blu-ray rivalry for certain…that resolve lasted about five seconds when we saw what blu-ray is capable of. it’s seriously like 3D, like the movie is taking place live right in front of you.

the player came with 10 free movies—five in-store, and five you send away for, so we got goodfellas, the shining, the departed, hairspray, corpse bride, and a series of pixar shorts (…we couldn’t narrow it down). the mail-order ones have a much smaller selection, and there is still some debate about which ones to choose, but this much is certain: american psycho and the prestige.

supposedly the player will upgrade any regular DVD you play in it to near blu-ray performance, but we haven’t tried it yet, and i’m slightly skeptical. this whole blu-ray thing has made an overall negative impact on my life, because now i’ll never again be able to fully appreciate a movie that isn’t playing in ultra-high-definition on a hugenormous LCD widescreen with 9-speaker-surround sound, etc…and i don’t see myself ever being able to afford any of that shit, so i’m screwed. i’ll probably have to bum movie-viewage off my parents for the rest of my life.