Tuesday, May 31, 2005
Monday, May 30, 2005
What was I thinking?
I did the Atkins thing and lost a bunch of weight. Then, as predicted, I put on more than I had lost. So my new approach is to forget fad diets and focus on the basics of healthy diet and lots of exercise. Today I walked my poor dog to the art Museum and Back. He did get to relax in a waterfall in Forest Park and he got to chase a few squirrels, but we were both dragging by the end of that circuit. We went down through the loop and came back through Wash U so we got to do lots of people watching. My most frequent question about Sebastian is whether or not he is a wolf. I don’t think he has any wolf in him, at least not recently. He’s a pound puppy, but I always tell people Boarder Collie and Aussie Sheppard mix.
Sunday, May 29, 2005
Most of my pictures from the party didn't turn out because we didn't have the flash figured out. So I've been playing with the software, trying to punch some of them up. I thought this solerization of BJ was kinda cool.
I got up early yesterday and tackled a project. I’ve been wanting to excavate this brick path that I guessed was under about two inches of dirt in the backyard. I didn’t take a before photo, but here is the after shot.
I also dug out an area between the properties and planted many, many Canna. I went for long walk afterwards to The Loop and I didn’t take my cell phone with me. I did take my camera so maybe I’ll post some neighborhood pictures. U-city has taken the lion as its symbol so there are big cats aplenty in various official and more whimsical statuary.
We feed them on a steady diet of Scientologists that we keep housed in this former Masonic temple.
I think I got the job I was applying for. When I got back to the house there was a message on my cell from my boss-to-be that offer letters were going out next week and he’d talk to me then. At no point did he say, “You’re hired!” But he’s been acting like I had the job since we first met. So I am going to conclude that one of the offer letters going out next week is an offer of employment for me. They have a teacher who lives in an RV with a dish on top. He drives around the country teaching from his laptop. I could handle that.
I have a tee time today at 2:15, but as the clouds roll in I’m thinking that we are rained out.
I wrote a draft of the ceremony for Jason’s wedding yesterday.
My car is working because of an ancient secret technique that I learned from an old roommate. If your starter is wearing out then your solenoid is not constantly making contact. If you hit the casing with hammer then you can move the position slightly to allow contact and ignition. I am now driving with a hammer. I’ll hammer in the morning. I’ll hammer in evening. I’ll hammer out danger. I’ll hammer out a warning. I’ll hammer out love between my brothers and my sisters all over St. Louis!
Friday, May 27, 2005|
Drama serves a social function. Be it Greek tragedy or a medieval morality play the audience is treated to a pressure release, a “but for the grace of God there go I” pathos.
Drama: My starter on my car has been going out for a while now. I’ve been in denial about it or I put it on the hypothetical repair list for that point in time after I have the front suspension fixed. Well, it has fully died. Just as I get my car insurance paid up I get to suspend the whole thing and leave it parked. I can walk to the link. I can get to school. This is just another inconvenience. If you want us to meet somewhere you’ll need to come get me and if you want a ride you best call someone else.
Since I have the day off I called Brad to see about golfing in the afternoon and he is taking his students to The Botanical Gardens today. I thought it would be fun to go along, and this morning it occurs to me that I can use this as a field experience for my observation hours as long as I write a paper about it. So this weekend I get to write a paper about Brad. Ha.
Last night I dreamt I was going to teach an English class in a church and I had to prep the syllabus. I went through my bookshelves and picked the readings that should open the class. A homeless man helped me carry some tools to the church to get ready for the first class and I gave him a few bucks for his help. It was a good dream about the things I find sacred about my discipline. A little paternalistic I suppose, but still good.
Later in the dream R called me crying and we began to work on our stuff. I know it takes two to tango, but I feel tremendous guilt over the end of that relationship. This morning I feel like we’ve talked some things out, even though we haven’t and maybe never will. It’s been long enough. I need to let this go.
Thursday, May 26, 2005
I’m rereading HOMEBOY, by Seth Morgan. If you know the story of the yenshi baby – this is the source.
It’s an axiom of language studies that we define things in relation to what they are not. The axiom translates through all the social sciences and resonates especially in the realm of the political where a Muhammad makes a Constantine possible, or a Bismarck can unify the German nobles in response to a common external threat. Nation states often assert an initial character in response to some undesirable other. There are also corollaries of oppositional dynamics for the desirable other, as in romance: we pursue that which retreats.
In a similar vein, for the first time in a long time I feel like I am going into a weekend that I can distinguish from a workweek. I have either been involved in a six month work marathon trying to get a clue or I have been on a six month long weekend. Either way there has been little to distinguish one type of day from another. Now I have the added bonus of the Monday holiday and a course schedule that has nothing on Friday, so not only do I get my first weekend in six months, I get a long weekend, which is the best kind.
I’ve actually been really busy this week, but tomorrow I get to garden and make soup.
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Question #1: What are the four main components of "prophetic thought"?
West lists the four main elements of prophetic thought as discernment,
connection, tracking hypocrisy, and hope. By discernment he means the
development of a broad based sense of history that can be critically
utilized to understand where what is happening now has come from.
Connection is the ability to be interdisciplinary and to make a social
connection with your community such that your ideas are not divorced
from practical ends.
Tracking hypocrisy is what bell hooks would call being an "enlightened
observer". West utilizes Martin Luther as an example of someone who
fought against arbitrary and coercive authority both in the church and
in himself. West advises that the best place to start tracking
hypocrisy is in your own life, lest you become prideful in the
judgment of others. Finally West advocates hope as the antidote to
spirit crushing despair, so that we remind ourselves that the future
is open-ended and human nature is not fixed. Hope reminds us that we
can build a better world.
I like West a great deal. His sense of history and diplomacy in
presenting historical truths is quite admirable. He utilizes Derrida's
"always and already" language expertly to talk about how oppression
functions. I liked his characterization of the G.I. bill as
transformative to society, changing it from a pyramid to a diamond. My
father got his education on the G.I. bill and still never made more
than 28,000 a year. Despite financial shortcomings all of his children
learned the value of education and the six of us each have graduate
I am generally familiar with how the "other" has been historically
used to define a group as in Bismarck unifying German nobles via a
series of common enemies, but I wasn't familiar with the similar
assertion that the threat of Muhammad created Charlemagne.
"Education must not be about a cathartic quest for identity. It must
foster credible sensibilities for an active critical citizenry." That
quote says a great deal and tickles the part of me that is tempted to
enroll in Florida Atlantic's Public Intellectuals Ph.D. program (Boca
Raton). One of my mentors is teaching there, Wen Ying Xu.
I listen to my fellow students talk about their experiences in the
high school classroom and I worry a little about my future. I've
burned out trying to stay in St. Louis with such a tight job market. I
know instinctively that I can teach anywhere, the question is where
can I best serve? I wonder if I should return to college teaching and
complete my Ph.D.
Question # 6: What did Paulo Freire mean by human kind's ontological vocation?
Ontology is a branch of metaphysics that concerns itself with what
categorically is. Ontology asks questions of being. Martin Heidegger
is the philosopher who, together with his teacher Edmund Husserl,
reintroduced questions of ontology into contemporary philosophy.
Heidegger's book Being-In-Time is an attempt to reexamine Plato's
dialogues in a way that brings the idealism of Parmenides, who
formulated a philosophy where ideas precede things and stand outside
of time, in line with Heraclitus, who thought that the only absolute
was the principle of change. Heidegger argues that this was Plato's
dilemma and that being can only exist in time, not beyond it. This is
certainly Aristotle's critique of Plato.
We could look at all educational theories that we have explored so far
as an interplay between these two poles, a conservative notion that
truth is absolute and stands outside of time and a more liberal notion
of truth as fluid constantly transforming in time.
Freire is a student of Sartre who was in turn a student of and with
Martin Heidegger. For Sartre human nature is ultimately the
nothingness at the heart of being. Another way to say this is that
absolute human nature rests in our capacity to change. Sartre
obviously falls on the Heraclitian side of the debate, as does Freire.
For the existentialists following Sartre, the worst thing that can
happen to a person is to treat themselves or other people as objects.
Freire's pragmatic philosophy of education attempts to disrupt the
objectification and oppression of people by encouraging critical
dialogue with and about their everyday environments.
He asserts that, "It is the educator's task to assist individuals in
expanding the connection between concepts or issues of importance to
them to a larger evolving reality." In his assertion that the educator
should help people to move from doxa to logos he is paraphrasing
"One must follow what is common; but, even though the Logos is common,
most people live as though they possessed their own private wisdom."
(Fr.2) The common is what is open to all, what can be seen and heard
by all. To see is to let in with open eyes what is open to view, i.e.
what is lit up and revealed to all. The dead (the completely private
ones) neither see nor hear; they are closed. No light (fire) shines in
them; no speech sounds in them. And yet, even they participate in the
cosmos. The extinguished ones also belong to the continuum of lighting
and extinguishing that is the common cosmos. The dead touch upon the
living sleeping, who in turn touch upon the living waking. (Fr. 26)
Freire views the state of oppression and blindness that are part and
parcel with poverty as the responsible target of the educator.
Vocation is another word for work which has a connotative meaning of
work in a spiritual context or as accompanied by a calling in
accordance with an individuals higher nature. Work is a word for doing
and ontology a word for being yet for Freire, as for Sartre, there is
no being apart from doing as being only exists in relation to the
other in action moving forward in time. Ontological vocation is the
best work to bring about the best state of being accepting our
throw-ness in the world (what Sartre calls our Facticity) while at the
same time striving to embody the openness to the new that is our
shared true nature. Education in this context elevates us beyond our
biology towards our humanity.
I found a fascinating article by Johanne Provencal entitled Plato's
Dilemma and The Media Literacy Movement which combines Plato's
concerns about the transition from an oral to a writing based system
of knowledge/culture. This article feeds into my interests as I am
well familiar with Walter Ong's work Orality and Literacy: The
Technologizing of The Word (I imagine you studied with Ong during your
American Studies Program at SLU). Provencal uses Freire as a jumping
off place to talk about the importance of media literacy curriculum
for K-12 students.
In that visual media is a form of "Secondary Orality" we return to
tensions between the written and the oral, the open and the closed
text. For Friere this touches on his conceptions of the passive versus
the active student. I do think that educators are responsible for
cultivating critical minds and that we need to also envision ourselves
as teacher-students to be first open to critiques of ourselves.
Challenging but fun stuff. I haven't written about these issues for
years, but that I can do so from memory tells me a great deal about my
Here I am again in the UMSL library. I didn’t end up going home yesterday until after class so I was on campus for ten hours. I am up to twelve hours for the week in this library and I’m sure that number will jump to eighteen by the end of the day. I have a good sixty pages of critical theory to read and two short papers to write before five.
Angela and Beth were just getting into town yesterday when my class let out so I zipped over and picked them up. UMSL is five minutes from the airport. I’m sure they will both be writing about their trip so follow the links in the sidebar to see how it was (subtle pressure to get them posting).
Yesterday was one of those leave the house before eight and not home again until after nine days. I went right to sleep. I have the feeling that I have a lot more of those days in store. Next block (starting June 13th) I will be taking two classes and probably teaching one, so I will really have no life.
My fingers are covered with liquid nails residue as I did a flooring repair for Angela this morning. I have this long application to fill out for my internship and I have really been resisting doing it. It’s six pages long and I am supposed to go up to Kinko’s with the finished draft and make five copies; three on yellow paper. What a pain in my ass. I was having coffee this morning in St. Louis Bread Company trying to finish it and I get to a page requiring a personal statement. I said, “Oh my fucking Christ” out loud to the amusement of my fellow patrons and put the damn thing away.
I can’t get into the lung clinic until June 2nd so we will be waiting a bit to see if I am indeed a Typhoid Mary. Ok, back to the world of Cornell West and Paul Freire.
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
Blah, I just stood up to go home for a bit, got a drink of water and concluded that I don’t have time to go anywhere. I was in interviews all morning, which went well I think. Then I came to campus to read the text on reserve in the library for tonight’s class. I still have to write to short papers and read a research article I just pulled off of ebscohost. I like having access to academic databases again. They make research so much easier.
I dropped by the graduate office to check on the status of my fall application. I was approved by the Dean this morning, which should mean Financial Aid will release my funds next week, just in time for rent. If there’s any hold up I can take out an institutional loan against the guaranteed federal funds. I’ve had to do that before.
My TB test came back positive, which means any number of things. As I am asymptomatic I am not contagious. It could be a false positive from previous immunizations, as I have been out of the country more than once. I may have been exposed in any number of places, but the most likely source of exposure would be Camilla (my sister’s foreign exchange student). I get to go get a chest x-ray and blood work on the government’s dime to clarify the situation.
Screw it. I think I will go home for a bit. I need some non-academic time in my afternoon since I’m in class until 8.
I have a semblance of a suit laid out for an interview later this morning and then it is off to the library for more immersion in educational theory; yesterday was John Dewey, today is George Counts. I’m not sure what I am doing with this blog right now, as I don’t really seem to have many stories to tell. I went back to read last year’s posts and I noticed that I was writing a great deal more then relative to now. I guess the things I am pondering are mostly related to my coursework and I assume that they are of little general interest.
Maybe I am more about doing right now than being. It seems like there is something I could or need to be doing every minute of the day. Believe me, that is a very good thing. There is the old philosophical assertion that repression fosters creativity to utilize energies frustrated by systems of control. Translation: I might have fewer stories as my life sucks a great deal less than it did last year at this time, working as I was in a dead end job. Maybe not, I am still a little repressed. I had a series of personal losses and complicated relationships that had left me a little done: content to watch life. This spring things seem to be slowly germinating towards a more participatory existence.
I talked to my friends John and Milena last night. They are coming to visit in July with their son Alex. Milena wants to fix me up with her cousin, who speaks only Bulgarian and French. She’s living in Canada right now wrestling with immigration and employment issues. I don’t speak French and I only know a few inappropriate phrases in Bulgarian more suitable to developing short-term romantic prospects, but I do speak Canadian so maybe if we give it a little time…
Beth and Angela get back from Mexico tonight. Soon I’ll be traveling to the Ozarks and Oregon. I am waiting on my financial aid check to arrive to fund this sketchy life. I have lots of little hoops to jump through this summer to square away my fall internship and the process is like building a run of dominoes and then waiting for the effect. I am wondering if high school is right for me. It seems to me right now that teaching HS for a time will lead me back into college. This new job, in concert with my education studies, may hurtle me into a life of online explorations.
My actual birthday was uneventful, spent in homework and errand mode. I love my Dolphin pen Kat, it has already taken many notes.
Sunday, May 22, 2005
Ow….so I think we’ve established that I have a supportive friend base. They pulled out all the stops last night for my birthday and threw me as fantastic a party as there ever was. M.B.’s cooking was interstellar. Jason, B.J. Jen and Dereck put gas in their cars and watched the miles go by to be a part of it. Vanessa and Kat mugged the set design crew of one of those British “how to decorate your party” shows and made my apartment into and unhooked pad. Thank you all so much, everyone who was a part of it. You will soon be rewarded with the posting of multiple embarrassing pictures on several blogs.
Friday, May 20, 2005
Blah. It’s been storming and the air has that post front passage chill in the air.
I went out in Dogtown last night to celebrate the end of my first week of school, which is going great. I ran into Julie, who I used to bowl with when we were on the league at The Saratoga. She says hi. After bowling we sometimes would go to a local dive to get sliders. A slider plate is your typical breakfast sausage-egg-toast and hash browns platter, which is then covered with a liberal helping of chili so that you can’t see anything but chili. I went there last night on a nostalgic impulse. I ate. I have been regretting that decision all day. I think I have the exercise thing happening regularly, now we need to work on diet. My occasional White Castle/slider impulse is killing me.
I was on campus early this morning for a T.B. test and then I’ve been cleaning and kicking around all day, getting ready for the party and the guests tomorrow. My interview for the online teaching position was moved to Tuesday to accommodate one of my potential bosses, so that remains up in the air.
I’m in this weird position of having been rapidly accepted to the summer program with overrides such that my financial aid for the summer won’t be available until I am reaccepted for the fall. Hopefully that will happen this week. It’ll be next week at the latest. My GPA and GRE numbers are such that there is no doubt that this will go through, and I’m already in the program taking classes, it’s just a question of bureaucratic timing.
I have lots of experience working these things so I went up the food chain and got a dean involved yesterday to try and speed up the process. It is beyond frustrating to make the decision to go another 10 K in the hole and not be able to access those funds. She said, “Yeah, I’m calling in favors for several people in the summer session, so what’s one more.” I am rolling other debts into low interest student loans, but for the time being I am living in the land of creative financing. My instructor put two copies of our course texts on reserve at the library (you were right Angela) so I took my books back today and paid my car insurance.
Do you want a dark secret? I think Boston may be my favorite band. I used to date a girl who felt that way about Journey. She had a Steve Perry fixation. More Than a Feeling is playing on the radio right now so I thought I might confess. It has something to do with being a kid and driving around with my brother Kris is his cherry red Montego GT that was jacked up in back and tricked out all over. Kris is a pilot now. He has a talent for machinery.
I went and saw Star Wars at the noon showing opening day. My only comment is that Lucas couldn’t write his way out of a paper bag. If Tom Stoppard tried to save the script, I think he got his check for being on hand to pronounce the time of death. The first forty minutes are interminable. From there on out it is watch-able as long as no one is talking, but it is not in the neighborhood of good.
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
Oh my Jesus Fucking Christ… one of my requirements for this little three-week class is that I attend the full meeting of a local school board and report on it. I checked the local web page and I’d missed U-City’s so I checked my old HS and it was tonight. I did a crash course presentation in the pre Socratics and The Allegory of the Cave for my fellow students up at UMSL from 5:30 – 6:30 and then I ducked out of class early to make the seven thirty meeting…
If I have sinned in this life and there is a hell that gives us each our own personal chamber of horrors I will spend eternity in a Board of Education Meeting listening to this fucker grandstand and second guess every easily passable point while the other members of the board and the thirty people in the audience look on in disbelief. That guy needs a beating. Fourteen years since I graduated and the only face I recognize is my sex education teacher, go figure. He looks the same so I’m thinking Tantra.
When did the meeting end? Eleven ten. What’s the shortest distance between two points? Me at the end of that meeting and a bottle of gin. I had to sit through the physical education report, the school food report, and the 2007 class schedule committee. That’s it. Three and a half hours for three twenty minute presentations and endless self-important irrelevant bullshit. How do these people live? I feel like I have just gone through a grand hazing.
I’d let you take a toenail before I’d sit in a meeting like that again. How is it possible that so many people conspire together to waste so much oxygen? The bureaucracies of the world make Sisyphus and his rock seem like a pleasure cruise to the Bahamas. The greatest fields of waste in this century are not landfills or radioactive dumps; they are the gristmills of human potential squandered on the minutia of voting on minutes and fanaticizing relevance in what passes for educational oversight.
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
I was wondering how the other students were perceiving me and I am beginning to think it is as an authority. I am not being a gunner, I promise. A gunner is a term from law school referring to a student who always raises their hand. This instructor is essentially teaching a philosophy class and so she is using me as a sounding board and wants me to teach part of the class tomorrow on Plato and Idealism and in the next class she wants me to lecture on existentialism. I could have given both lectures tonight on an impromptu basis.
An older man, Chris, came up to me after class and wanted to know if I thought that the Marquis De Sade (publishing in 1782/85/87-1800) was responding to Rousseau’s Emile (1762) and I said sure and that there was also dialogue with Voltaire’s Candide (1759) and Thomas Carlyle’s Sartor Resartus (1833) as well.
They are all riffing with Boswell’s biography of Samuel Johnson (1791)– Boswell, Voltaire, and Rousseau all knew each other, spent time together, and Boswell was even involved with Rousseau’s mistress.
I think Chris may have wanted to make a clever but dismissive point about De Sade’s sexual use of “education” and I told him instead about transgression theories of education in the context of William Burroughs and Mikhail Bakhtin’s conceptions of the Carnivalesque. Bakhtin figured that without medieval carnivals that suspended the social order we never would have had the Renaissance and he argues that the novel now does for society what the carnival once did.
Bakhtin argues that all knowledge is constantly in dialogue with all knowledge and I think he’s right. It’s a conversation that I haven’t been participating in. Crap, this class has my brain up and running in the higher gears. I am not used to it, but it feels very good.
So after I walked Chris out, Ed wanted to walk me to my car and talk to me about Plato. Ed is an ex drill sergeant who has just discovered philosophy… I really don’t want to step on the instructor’s toes, but if she really wants me to be a resource I am more than happy to get my feet wet again. Who I am kidding? It’s good to be home. Well, I have a lot of homework and two lectures to prep. It’s best that I get to it.
I'm early for class again. I had to buy my books today - $118.6 for this class alone. and I have four more classes this summer. Ugh. If my financial aid doesn't come through soon... I got my student I.D. and a free metrolink pass so when I can't pay my car insurance I'll still be able to get here. I also have a forced gym membership so maybe I'll do weights until I can get a new chain for the bike. I have a T.B. test tomorrow and in reading the literature it occurs to me that I have been exposed to someone who has T.B. - that would end my teaching career quickly wouldn't it. My mother taught me to worry about odd and unlikely things. In the positive realm I have my second and third interviews for employment on Friday so even if my academic house of cards falls apart I'll still have a job.
A chain is only as strong as…
I was biking around the park this morning coming up those steep hills along highway forty in the southwest corner of the park and my chain broke. I was going pretty fast and then the bike just stopped as the broken chain wound its way around the rear spokes. I got launched off to the left and am sporting some find road rash all down my left leg and on the palm of my left hand. I was pretty much at Skinker Blvd and the highway 40 on ramp, so I got walk home from there with the wind blowing on all my thousands of microscopic gravel cuts. Now I get to clean them out with alcohol! The bike needs a new chain but is otherwise fine.
When was the last time you got hurt? I haven’t gotten hurt in years and it feels pretty good, like I’m a bruised up kid again. I was out playing and I took a spill, that’s all. Though I do need to buy a helmet.
Class was fine and will continue to be so. The teacher is excellent and philosophically minded so despite the undergraduate material the discussions should be good. It’s essentially three undergraduate classes in education crammed into three weeks of instruction so some intensity will come by simply the rate at which we are moving through the material. It was odd to be in a classroom and not be the teacher. I don’t think my fellow classmates know quite what to make of me. We did lengthy introductions and many of them are second or third career people. Anyway, there’s not much to report yet beyond book buying and initial homework assignments.
I went down to Fredrick’s afterwards and had a nice time with the people we met last week. The bartender, Dana, is quite cool and it turns out Eric and I used to hang out at the Dukum together back in 1996, it just took us a week to access those memories. We had both been wondering why we fell into this natural rhythm of banter. If you’d like the six degrees, it turns out that Eric lived with Melanie who dated Dan before Dan dated Yumi. Eric works for Walgreen’s and has discovered a gaggle of our old drinking buddies in Walgreen’s management. I may eventually need to buy a south side house as I am discovering my cohort dwells there. We met two women who were doing Eddie Izzard and Young Dr. Frankenstein quotes and I had a “these are my people” moment. Half the bar said “goodbye Karl” when I left so I guess I have a new bar.
Karen said, “One thing that sucks about UMSL is there are no bars around there.”
Karl said, “What are you talking about? I haven’t been in them but I’ve found two already.”
Karen, “Yeah, but they’re not the sort of places the people I was with would go to.”
Karl, “That’s a whole separate set of issues. I loves me a good dive bar. I used to drink at The Full Moon or that roadhouse down in Yarrow. I prefer the dives.”
It looks like Jen and D are coming down from the ville and Jason is heading over from KC so it will be fun for old and new friends to hang out this weekend. Since I didn’t get to join Kat and Chris for the City Museum thing and Jen and D recently had birthdays as well so it will be birthdays all around at the BBQ.
Monday, May 16, 2005
I am in the library waiting for my class to start. UMSL has this email system that keeps track of all your course work. I wasn't able to log on from home as your first session must be done at UMSL. So I got here early and signed on only to discover that our classroom has been changed. I got to read the syllabus for the first time and none of the books Karen gave me are on the list. The discussions are of people and articles that I've already read and the capstone is the design of a statement of teaching philosophy - which I already have a detailed version of. I need to stay positive and remind myself that it will be fun to talk about this stuff again. Karen warned me that I was in for some sophmoric hoop jumping while Mary has reminded me of the old dictum that I will get out of this what I put into it. All learning is recursive and the revision of my teaching philosophy will be usefull. I need a mantra... keep your head down and get to class on time.
I was drifting around the web like ya do and I found this DO NOT PLAY AT WORK IF "Motherfucking" is a problem Draft Rap.
Star Wars… I just read a so so review. I am supposed to meet John tonight at Fredrick’s after my class to watch episodes one and two. Star wars…
I remember when my bothers went to see it at the drive-in in Milwaukee when I was a kid. Empire came out around my seventh birthday and my sister Vicki was going to take me with her boyfriend Rich. Rich got me an Empire Strikes Back digital watch that was really cool. We drove to the theater in her yellow Ford Station Wagon that she would later drive over Rich’s foot during their breakup fight, but there were lines around the block and tents so we went and saw The Nude Bomb with Maxwell Smart instead. I seem to recall that Brad and his dad did the exact same thing that weekend back in May of 1980.
I suppose I could try and get in to see Episode Three on Friday. I don’t have classes. It might be fun to actually get in on my birthday weekend. If they are all sold out maybe I’ll just go rent The Nude Bomb out of a sense of nostalgia. Maybe I’ll see you at Fredrick’s later.
I’m not really sure why, but I got up at five a.m. today. When I am still in class at eight tonight I shall be filled with regret. I am waiting for it to warm up enough for me to take a bike ride. I may have at long last found my exercise. Last Wednesday was the first day I went around the park without having to walk up any steep hills. Friday and Saturday I rode from my house to the park, around the park and back without having to get off the bike at all. I may need to get an IPOD. I have been using this armband radio and Cindy Lauper ballads or car advertisements are not what you need when you hit those hills along the highway side of the park.
Here’s a story that perhaps I shouldn’t tell, let’s call it
The Case of The P.I. P-er:
I was biking back from the park on Saturday and letting my mind wander as per usual and I thought to myself, “What ever happened to the urine girl?” I knew a girl in college who was a little odd. She lived on the same floor as me and when her friends found out she had a crush on me they slipped a note under my door. Ah college. I wasn’t romantically interested, but we did become tertiary friends in that we shared friends and she ended up living for several years with my good friend Beth – who now lives in Seattle. For narrative purposes we will call this girl Jenny – which is of course not her name.
Jenny was a justice system major who dabbled in political science, but wanted above all else to be a professional private investigator. Jenny fell hard for a guy that I must have met, but I don’t remember him. Over the course of their yearlong affair he cheated on her. In response to his infidelity Jenny took a few days to fill a mason jar with her own urine which she then proceeded to pour all over the interior of his car by way of revenge or the primal marking of territory, hence my thinking of her from there forward as “the urine girl”.
Not ten minutes after she entered my mind I was at a stoplight waiting to cross, and Jenny whom I had not see for at least ten years was waiving at me from the opposite corner. She and an older friend came across the street and we made small talk about where our lives had gone. She is now a software developer.
I am a…
What am I again?
I am an asshole.
I thought I noticed a slight resemblance between her and her friend and I asked, “Is this your mother?”
No you didn’t.
You didn’t say, “Is this your sister?” like any normal person might?
No, I opened my mouth and inserted my foot, leg, and bicycle.
In my defense I was unsettled by my long bike ride and the eight-minute plausibly psychic lead on this encounter.
I did not give her my number. We will not be getting together to catch up on old times. I get to tell you about urine girl and from here on out she gets to tell her friends a story about this asshole she went to college with who insulted her best friend by suggesting that she looked old enough to be this thirty year old woman’s mother.
I am a twit.
Well, laughing at yourself is healthy.
Erica told me she thought that my faux pas was well placed lest I should invite that level of crazy into my life.
Sunday, May 15, 2005
I haven’t been feeling much like blogging of late. I guess I’ve felt sort of between chapters in my life, like a car in neutral.
I had a job interview on Saturday with ITT tech. I have two interviews to go, but it seems likely that I’ll be hired to teach in the summer session, which starts June 12th. My interviewer kept saying things like, “since you’re faculty you’ll be…” as though my employment were a foregone conclusion. They have to verify my education and employment history and then we will schedule the next interviews. My interviewer, a Dean at the school, was very frank with me about the position being a permanent one and being a gateway into online instruction, serving several institutions at once, which can apparently be quite lucrative. I have several friends who are motivated to get advanced degrees out of love for certain areas of knowledge, in order to research and publish. I am not primarily a researcher. I am primarily a teacher and a student. It will be interesting to try online teaching and see how viable a mode of instruction it is.
I start taking classes tomorrow towards my second Master’s degree. This is interesting in that online education is going through a change such that providers are attempting to hire instructors from the region that their students are in so that student and teacher can conference in person should the need for face time arise. I will actually be teaching some classes in person. The motivation on their part could also be a mixture of quality of instruction issues and student retention. It’s too early to be feeling this way, but it could certainly be possible that a degree in education combined with work experience in this area could lead directly to developing curricula and influencing how online English instruction evolves, at least locally. Anyway it feels like these two new opportunities for me could be linked in the future in interesting ways.
We look for patterns as part of human nature. In hindsight my time at the HAC in for profit education could be the perfect precursor to a future with ITT. I am not intrinsically opposed to the for profit model. Most more traditional universities have begun to refer to students as clients and make that semantic shift. If you can’t beat them…
I interrupt this blog to bring a rather important message.
Karl will be marking a millstone this forthcoming weekend. Thus, on Saturday, the 21st, around 7:00 p.m., friends and family are invited to what Karl (self) reverently (spelling deliberate) calls “Circle K” for a celebration. The main meat course lovingly provided by the usually referred to “lesbian” roommate (you have to love straight men). Sides and accoutrements are encouraged. For those who give thought to such things when bringing sides, the main course is a ginger/orange porkloin.
Saturday, May 14, 2005
We followed us home. Can we keep us?
Well, with M.B.’s new job and my return to school (and my new job as an online instructor for ITT Technical Institute!!) it looks like we will be renewing our lease and perpetuating this thing called circle K.
Friday, May 13, 2005|
Thursday, May 12, 2005
Little moments of odd pettiness:
I went to office depot today because I needed a new printer cartridge for the old home PC and this is a place where I am known. My former job involved a great deal of general upkeep on printers and such because I was the IT guy and the office supply guy etc. (I was the everything guy). I was always at Office Depot for some such thing or another so most of the ongoing staff knows me.
I’m at the checkout today and the woman behind the counter says, “You’re not doing supplies over there anymore are you?” and I say, “No, I’m not with that company anymore.” She replies, “Well your replacement is an idiot. Two years we worked together and I can’t remember ever having a problem or any uncertainty about what you needed. I was on the phone with her three times the other day and she is in and out of here as though she has no idea what is going on.”
Not a good sign. It’s been six months since I left and if they don’t have it figured out yet… If the office depot staff has opinions about your job efficacy then that is also sometimes not a good sign.
In other news ITT Tech may be offering me a job as an online composition instructor. Bizarre. More on that as it develops.
I might as well keep typing since I feel like sharing. It has been a week of administrative hurdles. The social security administration could not verify that I was a citizen so I had to take the school copies of my birth certificate and other documents to verify what our government would not. I got an email last Friday from the feds telling me what I needed to bring in, but the feds did not email the school until Wednesday so I was both ahead of and behind the game when I showed up with my documents on Monday.
Then I discovered today that I have to apply not once but three times to the program in which I am enrolling. My summer application is processed and I’m enrolled, but I cannot be considered a degree-seeking student who is eligible for financial aid until my application for the fall has been processed.
There was a catch-22 moment where I couldn’t get a student number until I was enrolled and I couldn’t enroll until I had a student number. Jessie in registration just held everything until I got consent overrides from two different departments.
So I got my fall application in today (with an essay that I needed the print cartridge to print) only to discover that I still need to submit five copies (three on yellow paper) of a third application to my certification program (seven pages long) ASAP with T.B. test and FBI background check. Bridget thinks I can’t fill it out until after I take my summer courses and Tom wants it yesterday. Oh, for fucks sake.
Then I had to reinstall the printer since it wasn’t up on the new hard drive and my drivers on the CD didn’t match the new operating system. Then I discovered that the printer was not out of ink, but only needed the heads cleaned, so I wasted the money on the ink and can’t return it as I’ve opened it. I also did four loads of laundry and went grocery shopping. The kids are going a concerting tonight down to The City Museum, but I am exhausted and cashless, so I wish them well but shall not be partaking.
Written while living in The Alamo Apartments on Normal Street in Kirksville MO. 1997
The naked girl used to live in the apartment I live in now. I don’t know her name. I do know that she was tall, with dark stringy hair and dark eyes. She seemed bony to me, all knees, elbows, and shoulders. She used to read her poems at a local restaurant on evenings when that sort of thing was done. Every last poem she wrote involved a joy in shedding things. They would start,
“I was on my bed…”
“I was naked in the woods…”
“I was rolling in the grass…”
“I was tangled in the covers…”
My landlady said (as I stared at the wood floors and big windows thinking, “How do I haggle, what is the value of this space?”), “The girl who used to live here was an artist. Maybe you knew her.” She pointed to an alcove above the stairs, “That’s where she had her studio.” It’s a perch above the living room, perhaps intended for storage, but filled now for me with the echoes of canvas and paint, perspective and absence.
I didn’t much like her poetry then, but as I’ve lived in the former space of the naked girl I understand it more. I know with certainty that she was naked often in the rooms I now inhabit; I can feel it in the air, in the hardwood and windowpanes. This apartment has become as one of her garments, a cast off and a shedding.
She’s gone from this town, but what remains for me of this women I never knew, but for her frequent rhyming spectacles of things intimate and tactile, what remains is an image of surrender, the surrender of habits and the retention of the essential, the confidence of self in accepting and displaying what is most true about who we are, and the grace to let everything else fall away from time to time.
Her poetry was meant to be bohemian and it always struck me as silly when she would move the crowd to jeers and whistles with her erotic gin and pregnant tone of voice. But she was fully present while other poets hid behind their careful use of language. I would cheer with the crowd if she would read again of afternoons in bathtubs, curling toes and yawning, scratching hips and joining lips and lying long and lounging.
I have my memories of such afternoons, where the world is left behind to comfort. I shelter in these memories as she once sheltered in the alcove above my stairs, sitting naked but for splattered paint, free from all the harder things of life which one could wish to shed.
When you clean your room you find old things that you’ve forgotten about, but were nonetheless hanging on to. I found this.
Car ride to Chicago with Melinda – written sometime in 1995 – revised 2005
She was a theater major. She was a costume designer. She made bone-in corsets for herself and poet shirts for me. She was a woman of dramatic absolutes. She wanted engagement or dissolution and would brook no middle path. I couldn’t commit so she went to Japan, one in a series of women who left me for foreign countries. I’ve been left for Venezuela, Bulgaria, Russia, multiple states and municipalities as well. It says soothing that passionate endings send women to foreign climes, nothing good, but something. I tend towards the more dramatic paramours.
As she rode away from that small town, perhaps forever, she felt a new freedom of selfhood. The pain between them had purified her. She thought to herself, “It’s as though I’ve been bathed in fire.” It is at this point that the author of this story felt a kind of detached anguish mixed with amusement, picturing the memory of that girl in the car and himself at the wheel.
He wondered if that was what she was really feeling. I mean, he was sitting there driving, watching the asphalt and he could have sworn that at some point she must have said, “I feel purified.” She said it in that exact voice, the voice which two-dimensional characters in third-rate plays use to express their deepest insights. Maybe it’s the voice you have to use to project large in the space of a theater or a midsize sedan.
Maybe she’d just read so many romance novels and watched so much bad television that she was conditioned to take her true and nebulously complex emotions and channel them into this contrivance of style. She had confessed earlier to reading Anais Nin all month long, what more red flags do you need?
The author of this story mused on this some weeks later and decided that he had been rudely and maliciously turned into a trash compactor for the detris of her college years. He’d been the screen for her projections and he’d almost kept the images for himself.
As they traveled down that highway in exhausted silence the right half of the car began to lean into the turns while the left half began to lift up. It was as though ten anvils, now twelve, sat in the passenger seat. All the author’s strength was poured into the two fingers that he kept on the wheel, in order that the skill of his steering might overcome the treacherous imbalance in weight. You can imagine that in every turn the vehicle pulled and pulled towards the shoulder of the two-lane highway and seemed as though it might at any instant leap off into the Blue Bells and Brown Eyed Suzannes, plowing through the earth like superman’s meteorite taxi.
He spent the drive engaged in survival, intent upon delivering his dense and contracting passenger to the threshold of singularity before everything collapsed. The anvil chorus came to him and he drove as if the only world with full foundation had been left at home in his other pair of pants. At times like these he found it best to travel without a fulcrum point of certainty: a thing he imagined to be akin to a small silver orb of paradigmatic absolutes refined from experience. Certainty can make things either or, and in endings it is perhaps better to be open.
That worst possible outcome of this drive was that he could mistake his reflection for the illusion of permanence, that this one cracked facet of himself reflecting back at him in anger might be seen as a token for the whole. Luckily his missing fulcrum eradicated this possibility. Without that shinning point of reference the absurdity of life could dissolve all self-pity and attachment into the joy of having been able to love for a time. He never had to think, “I am,” just, “we were.” Any recasting from hero to villain or back again is just that: a casting.
And now the water swirls and eddies at her feet, having hated everything in him that she saw in herself, having at long last realized that in no other being could she find the key to her own heart, she traveled 10,000 miles to Japan, to the edge of myth. She stood like Izanagi and Izanami on the rainbow bridge of heaven and gazed for the first upon her own true reflection in the churning sea.
The blood we draw from others marks us deepest and yet all these lacerations teach us only the dangers of our grip; afraid to let go, afraid to be let go, afraid of release and change. I’m afraid, afraid of the words on the page in front of me and the pain they still hold. Yet, I handle them and they respond like used tools that show some signs of rust, but which can be sharpened still into things of use.
Perhaps I am like the set designer who builds a world for the actresses to play their parts, but no amount of prompting has yet enticed me to act myself. I see the scripts repeat their themes and after the show closes, in raucous applause or stunned silence, I am left to strike, saving what I can for the next production.
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
I lead a cluttered life. I was looking for something in the bathroom mirror cupboard and I found a business card confirming a two-year previous appointment for a hair cut. I snapped. I decided to move a bookcase in my room and then my bed. Then the dressers got swapped and swapped again with bookcases. The books began to organize themselves by genre and author. The water damaged plaster in the corner was introduced to my chisel and I ran up to Home Depot for some joint compound. I put it on too thick beneath the window and will have to start over there tomorrow, but the southeastern corner at the ceiling turned out great.
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Hello Land-o-Lakes Visitor – your patronage is like butter!
Fredrick’s is a fun little pub. I met John O down there last night for their Star Wars marathon. They have Stag on tap. You can drink a fair amount of Stag over the course of two films. They served us free microwave popcorn in dog dishes, like you do. There was a girl named Mary in a Princess Leia costume that makes me wish I had a camera phone. I would have called you and said, “You will have to see this craziness to believe it” and then I would have sent you the image just like in the commercial.
Left with only words I should tell you that she was not the white gown with cinnamon buns haircut Leia, she was the Moroccan private dancer kill me some Jaba Leia. She too had had much Stag and had to be removed from the scene by her handlers just as she was explaining to me why I should buy her a drink. We kept waiting for Triumph The Wonder Dog to arrive and poop on everyone in costume. The bartender, who was quite cool and is studying to be a mortician, told us she had played that clip earlier. That’s good career parity; she embalms both the living and the dead.
I had fajitas with Karen and John A before I went to the bar. Karen gave me all her old books for the certification program, so that’s one less expense. They are getting ready to move into their new house over Memorial Day weekend and have secured a slate pool table for their basement. Soon I too will be a teacher, buy a house and have a pool table in a basement of my own. I have at long last reached the end of my fight against domestication. I surrender to the simple joys of home and hearth. I want a new dryer.I want a garden...
Monday, May 09, 2005
Jane Dark posted a call for papers on her blog and I thought I’d take a crack at the three primary topic areas by generating three thesis proposals in under ten minutes.
Three thesis in ten minutes or less:
Topic One: Brad Pit and the Western – American archetypes of masculinity have long been drawn from and reproduced in the Western film genre. As a visual narrative form the use of space and landscape are ideal in projecting a masculinity that straddles the fence between European ideals of manhood expressed by academic accomplishments in the arts and refined, ornate speech contrasted with a more primal masculinity projected onto Native Americans and later Cowboys by the likes of Rousseau; constructing as he did the cultural locus of the noble, and often silent, savage. Pit has been used by modern directors to refine and reinvent the westward progress of masculinity first seen fully articulated in the cinema classic A Man Called Horse.
Topic Two: Brad Pit and Postmodern identity struggles
The plot device in which Brad Pit’s Character in Fight Club is revealed to be a figment of the central character’s imagination explores the contemporary identity crises faced by individuals in society where gender roles have at long last become fluid. Unfortunately this cautionary tale is used by the director not to celebrate the breakdown of outmoded social constructs, but rather to force members of his audience back into the embrace of sexist and violent stereotypes.
Topic Three: The Reifying Pit: Brad Pit as James Dean
It is part of the social construction of stardom that performers who wish to have a sustainable career are constantly forced to reinvent themselves, progressing from quasi rebellion towards more traditional roles. From bell hooks’ exploration of the career of Madonna, in which a new public self emerges from the ashes of the old like a clockwork phoenix, we can extrapolate a pattern by which Brad Pitt may be seen as the current cultural resurrection of the bad boy with the heart of gold and abs of steel first embodied by the young James Dean.
Anybody want to go watch the Star Wars trilogy at a bar tonight?
Free Monday Movie Night
This week at Free Monday Movie Night at Frederick's it's Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (1977), Star Wars: Episode V -The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of The Jedi (1983)
Brought to you by:
Frederick's Music Lounge
This event is located in: South City
St. Louis, MO 63116
MacHomer: Shakespeare meets the Simpsons
Rick Miller's pop culture brainchild is a one-man spectacular featuring his dead on impersonations of over 50 Simpson's characters performing Shakespeare's "Macbeth."
The L.A. Times reported, "It's intelligent, often hilariously funny, and it works like gangbusters, the laughs are continuous."
Presented by Charter Communications
Date: 5/13/2005 8:00 pm
Brought to you by:
Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center
It conflicts with the KDHX thing at The City Museum
Saturday, May 07, 2005
When is a weekend not a weekend? When you spend it back in the arms of the New Age. I had a yoga event this weekend that I organized. This isn’t really the forum to talk about it, as it’s one of those pieces of my life that doesn’t quite fit with the rest of it. Though that’s the crazy wisdom gear shifter, drinking one day and meditating the next.
I have a certain cache’ in the local quester scene, what with my longhair-ponytail-intellectual-disguise. I can appear reverent in the strangest of settings, mostly because I think I am genuinely open to new experience. You could say I’ll try almost any belief system once. If I get nothing out of it then at least I have source material for fiction.
Joseph Heller just had a birthday, which makes me think I should write the New Age Catch-22 with Yosarian naked in the tree doing sun salutations; you’re dammed with an ego and worse off without one.
New Agers and their ilk say, do, and believe the oddest of things and then here I am, on Hume’s birthday no less - my favorite cynic and skeptic of them all, helping to propagate a world view that I am lukewarm about at best. I mean it’s as plausible as anything else I suppose. I just get a kick out of how close-minded and sectarian they can be, each one sure that this latest teacher has the red phone to the Kremlin of truth. When they get egomaniacal about the death of their ego it’s a laugh riot. Hyperbole is also common in this crowd when referring to the best energy with the most sacred source, or the best experience, etc. It’s all chutes and ladders in the land of the new age, as you climb to the top and watch the fools take their rides. Give me the chute any day, that’s the fun part.
To be fair, it is with a broad brush that I paint the New Age as in common parlance anything Eastern or “other” gets lumped together under this umbrella of archangels and aliens. My guy is not a New Ager. If anything he’s a very Old Ager drawing from ancient Samkhya, which many noted academics agree predates Christianity by a couple thousand years. In a historical pissing contest, trying to hit the mythic golden age of spiritual truth, all things Indian have that Aryan edge. Stick a goddess river valley culture in a hierarchical press with a militaristic priesthood on top and you can squeeze out some ambrosial amrita.
When the lawyer boys talk about their cases they say “I got a guy who…” or “my guy”. This is useful in that they are the agents of these guys, their actions are confidential in particular but not in general, they are able to distance themselves such that they can act in the best interests of their client without feeling in any way compelled toward sympathy with the individuals in whose name they act.
So I got a guy and he’s just back from India so I hooked him up with a local venue, ran some ads, did some leg work, and we had a really good turnout for his series of workshops. I got roped into attending all of them so I have been through the meditative transformational ringer. I’ve been mostly vegetarian and totally alcohol free for days (this from the grill king). I have also been a St. Louis tour guide through many restaurants, the Zoo, and other points of interest.
I have had my charkas aligned through the musical playing of quartz bowls that were remaindered from the manufacture of silicone chips, had an introduction to shamanic journeying in a cave of sorts with a very large sacred drum that beats with the heart of mother earth, met a women who heals people with dolphin and whale energy surprisingly far from any porpoise of purpose, hugged a stupa, been blessed with lignum water, gazed into the eyes of St. Therese, had a chat with my Matrilineal ancestor line, and been cured of sleep apnea through the ingestion of magically blessed water (maybe), and other similar solipsisms to numerous to name.
My cohort is having cocktails at Brad & Beth’s and I must not be free of desire yet, because I wish I were over there with them.
My philosophy in contrast with that of spiritual hierarchs: I’m driving in the park with my guy and he says, “Wouldn’t it be great if all these people were here on a spiritual retreat?” and I said, “They are.”
David Hume to Descartes, "The world is more like a cabbage than a watch."
From The Writer's Almanac:
...it's the birthday of the philosopher David Hume, born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1711. He was born at a time when Edinburgh was one of the poorest, most backward cities in Europe. It was muddy, no sewage system, polluted by peat smoke. Alcoholism was everywhere. Even children drank whiskey every day.
On top of all the drinking there was a very strict religious climate. If you skipped church on the Sabbath, there were groups of religious police known as the Seizers who would grab you on the street and take you to mass. Less than 15 years before Hume was born in 1711, there was an 18-year-old college student put on trial for saying openly that he thought Christianity was nonsense, and he was convicted and he was hanged for blasphemy.
There was, on the other hand, great literacy in Edinburgh. Religious leaders believed that everybody ought to be able to read the Bible, and so all children learned how to read, including young David Hume, who grew up fascinated by philosophy—which caused him to lose his faith when he was 18 years old. He wrote to a friend, "I found a certain boldness of temper growing in me, which was not inclined to submit to any authority. I was forced to seek out some new medium by which truth might be established. " And that was philosophy.
He became obsessed with the idea of truth, of how people can know the truth about anything. He wrote his Treatise of Human Nature (1739), in which he argued that it may be impossible to know anything for sure about the world, that we can experience the world but never fully understand it.
David Hume became the leading figure of a group of Scottish intellectuals, including the economist Adam Smith, who invented the study of economics; Adam Ferguson, who helped invent sociology; James Hutton, who invented geology; Joseph Black and William Cullen, who invented modern chemistry; James Watt, who developed the steam engine; James Boswell, who wrote the greatest biography of all time; Sir Walter Scott, who wrote the first great novel; and Hugh Blair, who was the first University professor to teach a course in English literature.
In 1755, the Church of England tried to prosecute him for his skepticism, but the case was dismissed and David Hume became one of the first to openly question the existence of God and suffer almost no consequences.
It was David Hume who said, "Reading and sauntering and lounging and dozing, which I call thinking, is my supreme happiness."
Friday, May 06, 2005
Spookalot was giving out brain fart awards today so I thought I would nominate myself for the following:
For Karl who thought his speedometer was broken for the past two weeks only to have it pointed out by a passenger last night that he'd accidentally switched the digital readout to kilometers.
Thursday, May 05, 2005| |
Actually, I’ve always been more of a Nietzsche man in the spin cycle of early existentialism. But recently I’ve been thinking more about Kierkegaard’s conception of the ethical stage. He believes that as we develop we come to an aesthetic appreciation of life, which falters as we become bored. I’m bored. Are you bored? (A common critique of existentialism is that only leisure classes have the luxury of boredom – everybody else is just trying to get by.) Kierkegaard thinks that we then have an either/or choice. Either we can choose to remain bored or we can evolve from an aesthetic orientation toward life to an ethical one. The ethical phase precedes a religious phase and is akin to Martin Buber’s “I & Thou” philosophy that gives primacy to relation with the other rather than soaking in the solipsism of the self.
Nietzsche goes the other way towards his superman who is beyond herd ideas of morality (ethics/religiosity) and shapes the world according to his will. More and more that approach just seems hollow and sad, especially since Nietzsche got and died from syphilis as the result of his post morality swim in the cynicism of the self. I dislike the conservative trimmings of my youthful indoctrination in Christianity and have no love of any morality that presupposes judgment, but I have to confess that the chewy ethical center and relation to the other as the higher good has stuck fast in me like the filling in a Danish (Soren was Danish so that is a joke about the nature of the philosophical pastry because, as Chevy Chase observed in Caddy shack, “A flute with no holes is not a flute and a donut with no hole is a Danish.”)
In that after the last six months of thinking about how to live my life I have come to two principles, that I need constant change in my life and that I need my actions to help other people, I seem to have slipped off the Nietzsche wagon and am hitching toward the mead hall of my Dane.
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
One year ago I met Chris:
and he had a hat!
Looks pretty much the same doesn’t it. I guess I sold that Old Style neon light from the kitchen window in my junk stall and the final strand of Christmas lights that Ruthann and I had put up there finally died, so those are gone. I think we ended up drinking those beers and eating that food, so that’s gone, unless some of the trace minerals have survived in our bone structure. I haven’t had a haircut in over a year and a half so I guess some particles from the meal could now be red curls. I still use that big pot above the dishwasher to refill the fish tanks. I think the hat went to goodwill. Same cell phone, magic eight ball, unframed print, bar, black margarita salt holder, same me my dearest Chuang Tzu, Heraclitus, whoever. No Progress as promised.
Kat informs me that Chris and Vanessa have decided we are doing something for Cinco de Mayo. Kat further suggested that we should do fajitas on the grill. Thoughts? I'd like to celebrate completing my enrollment in UMSL today. We can call it early birthday for Chris and Kat as well. My only thought for the holiday is, "tequila."
Kat was also saying she had the impression that my enrollment at UMSL was impulsive. Certainly I am impulsive, however perhaps I should note that I first met with Jane about this rapid summer certification program well over a year ago. I have been thinking about it as an option for me since that first meeting. So we're just taking a life plan off the back burner and setting it to simmer.
I have to say it is a very good thing to wake up and know that there is a list of things that I can do today that are not just spinning wheels, but are actually getting me somewhere and solving immediate problems. I have a ton of paperwork to get through today, but it’s not a problem.
Time lapse – two hours – first three rounds of paperwork complete – now we wait on the feds…
Tuesday, May 03, 2005|
I had a very long meeting with Jane where she went over my transcripts with a fine-toothed comb. I have most of the rapid certification requirements taken care of already – this is for 9th-12th. I am looking at three intensive courses over the summer and an internship in the fall. There will be a few additional courses if I want to complete the M.Ed., but I can get my certification out of the way before I do that. If I get hired for a fall classroom then the job will work for my internship. Best of all I can take out a huge student loan to cover tuition, house bills, and roll some of my credit card debt into low rate student loans, and get my car fixed and registered as the tags expire in July and the front wheel is acting strange.
The bad news is the course schedule is designed for people teaching summer school, so it would conflict with a typical bar work schedule. I should be able to take out enough in loans that I won’t have to work and I suppose it would help to be uber focused, as these will be intensive classes. I start classes May 16th. I do not need to retake the GRE, get letters of recommendation, or any other similar hassles. I have already been accepted and am enrolled in the program. I had never been to UMSL before today. It’s about a ten minute drive due north from my front door. This is such a no brainer.
We worked together. How many hundreds of times did we share a drink together on my back deck? How many times did we shoot pool at the Dukum? Will and I bartended together at Ryan’s. He pissed the owner Harry off by jumping ship to work at the Dukum for better tips. He lived with Chris and Michelle in the upstairs of the brick house on Baltimore next to the Casey’s gas station. The night of our roof party we stayed up all night in order to meet Will up at the Dukum since he’d left without the key. Weedy would rattle the ice in his empty rum and coke, and he would say, “Wilbur…”
I just found out Will was killed in Iraq.
You want words to be something, but they fail sometimes.
"TMAs are usually hypercritical, a side effect of high reasoning aptitudes. They notice flaws and loopholes, errors and inconsistencies. They notice that 90% of almost anything is bullshit. They are usually good arguers and can tear just about anything to shreds--including themselves."
Monday, May 02, 2005
Your Birthdate: May 23
With a birthday on the 23rd of the month (5 energy) you are inclined to work well with people and enjoy them.
You are talented and versatile, very good at presenting ideas.
You may have a tendency to get itchy feet at times and need change and travel.
You tend to be very progressive, imaginative and adaptable.
Your mind is quick, clever and analytical.
A restlessness in your nature may make you a bit impatient and easily bored with routine.
You may have a tendency to shirk responsibility.
Very sociable, you make friends easily and you are an excellent traveling companion.
I just wasted several hours of my life in the Meramec River bottoms somewhere off the deep end of Gravois. Today’s slice of humble pie was served to me by my odd impulse to work for a moving company. I like to help people move. I’m much stronger than you would think just by looking at me. The job would get me in shape. The idea of paying a gym to whip your ass into hard-bodied divinity offends my working class sensibilities. If you’re sweating you should be getting paid. I gathered from the office that the “institutional culture” is a mixture of ex military and ex con. A group of guys was talking about their softball league. I felt a little egg-headed, but I could adapt.
bell hooks (intentionally lower case) has written at length about how your class background affects your innate sense of possibility. That’s true for me in that I have a hard time imagining myself as anything other than a teacher like my father or a laborer like my extended relation.
It took me an hour to find their little industrial park grotto and another hour to fill out their seven-page application (with yet another math test) only to discover at the conclusion of this escapade that they’ve closed the office that was only two miles from my house to consolidate their operations. This means that the drive to work everyday would seriously eat into my wage. We’ll call this a province of last resort.
Karen did talk with the owner of a bar just blocks from here that I had applied to last week (she used to work there) and he is supposedly calling me tomorrow. Mary thinks I might end up GED teaching in the AM and waiting tables/bar tending at night. I could live with that for a bit until I figure things out. This bar is all jazz and longhairs without a softball team in sight, more my stereotypical scene.
My current reasoning is as follows – get financial aid – get into UMSL – get summer job – get teaching career restarted – they have a summer program for people with existing Master’s degrees such that I could have rapid certification (I am waiting to hear back from Jane in the education department). This could all change on a dime because I am like that, but at least we have a plan of action for the short term. There’s still the KC job out there in limbo and there are a few other “sales” positions of a white-collar nature that I’ve applied for. I’m retooling my cover letter this afternoon to try for a few more of those kinds of jobs with area publishers.
BOOM – Jane just called back and fast-talked me through to my future. I am meeting with her tomorrow to begin enrollment in the fast track certification program towards a second Masters degree in education though UMSL, courses start mid May so this is now. I have to meet with three advisors to make this happen ASAP and I have appointments with two of them tomorrow. Carlo is going back to school.
Sunday, May 01, 2005
According to The Mists of Avalon, and other notable sources, we should be celebrating May Day/Beltane/spring by having consequence free sex in front of a fire. Instead I am having a gin & tonic and eating fried chicken. Happy May Day!!!!!!!!!!!
Happy Beltana!!!!! (From Wikepedia)
Beltane or Beltaine (from Irish Bealtaine or Scottish Gaelic Bealtuinn; both from Old Irish Beltene, "bright fire" from *belo-te(p)niâ) is an ancient Gaelic holiday celebrated around May 1."Bealtaine" (pronounced IPA / ˈbʲɑlˠ.t̪ˠə.n̪ʲə/) is the name in modern Irish for the month of May. It is also the traditional first day of summer in Ireland. It is a Cross quarter day being midpoint in the Sun's progress between the Vernal Equinox and Summer Solstice. May 5 (Old Beltane) is the precise astronomical date.
Early Gaelic sources from around the 10th century state that the Druids would create a need-fire on top of a hill on this day and rush the village's cattle through the fires to purify them and bring luck ("Eadar dà theine Bhealltuinn" in Scottish Gaelic, "Between two fires of Beltane"). People would also go between the fires to purify themselves. This was echoed throughout history after Christianization, with lay people instead of Druid priests creating the need-fire. The festival persisted widely up until the 1950s, and in some places the celebration of Beltane continues today. A revived Beltane Fire Festival has been held every year during the night of 30 April on Calton Hill in Edinburgh, Scotland since 1988, and attended by around 15,000 people.
Beltane is a specifically Gaelic holiday, not "Celtic", as other Celtic cultures, such as the Welsh, Bretons, and Gauls, do not celebrate it. Though many cultures did celebrate a springtime festival known by various names.
In neopaganism, the name Beltane or Beltaine is used for a sabbat, one of the eight solar holidays, which is celebrated on this day. Although the holiday uses features of the Gaelic Beltane, such as the bale fire, it bears more relation to the Germanic May Day festival, both in its significance (focussing on fertility) and its rituals (such as maypole dancing). High Beltaine is celebrated through a reenactment of intercourse between the May Lord and Lady. Gerald Gardner, the principal originator of the Wiccan religion, referred to the holiday as May Eve.
Among the neopagan sabbats, Beltane is a cross-quarter day; it is celebrated in the northern hemisphere on May 1 and in the southern hemisphere on November 1. Beltane follows Ostara and precedes Midsummer (see the Wheel of the Year).
As per usual, mine was a weekend laden with parties. On Friday, after happy hour with my sister and Angela, I met Kat and crew over at Jess’s for her going away party (to a glass blowers conference in Australia returning via Hawaii). Kat has a cool visual pastiche of the evening up on her page. Jess had been gifted a forty of Old English by someone at the party and I was enlisted in the task of volume reduction so that she might present the illusion of hurried consumption. Yes, that is a task I can do for you.
The schlocky looking snugglers (Pixie T-shirt) are Chris and Vanessa celebrating their one-year anniversary. Yes, you can meet people online. I can’t explain that underwear picture in the upper left. I think that happened after I went home. Yes, people were playing trivial pursuit. A plan was hatched regarding the bus’s electrics. We shall see.
Saturday I spent the morning cruising estate sales with Mary. She got a pink depression-glass platter for Beth’s birthday and we managed a few other odds and ends. I had no great finds but I like being out on warm days wandering through stranger’s homes, it’s a soothing sort of wander.
M.B. has joined netflix and got the first few episodes of the L Word on DVD. I was surprised to discover that I know, or knew at least, one of the leads. I went to high school with Erin Cohen, now Daniels I guess. Mary has this happen to her all the time, where people she knew in California show up in film credits. There’s something very “oh…huh” about it, just a little more kindling for the “what the fuck am I doing with my life” fire.
So, Saturday was Beth’s birthday BBQ (when asked recently what he was doing with his life Karl thought for a time and responded, “grilling it”). I’m sure she’ll have pictures up later, after the company softball game. It was a great party and the food was fabulous. I did provide four dolphin ice sculptures for ambiance so apparently I am not a total waste of oxygen. My brother Andy told me to get married so that I would stop drifting through life and have direction. Hehehehehehehehe. That’s a cart before a horse if I ever saw one.
Today is cleaning and laundry day in the house. Karen is putting a good word for me in at a bar she used to work at, so perhaps this very week I shall return ablaze to the service class. I should start a novel so I can tell myself that I’m really a writer when my self-esteem starts to wobble like a Weeble. Those Weebles don’t fall down, but sometimes it sure looks like they are going to.