Saturday, June 28, 2008

Letter from Dad

A letter from Dad came in the mail today:

I am so glad your prison sentence in the state of hell is finally going to be over. You have finally reached your goal you had set for yourself so many years ago. It will be well worth the effort and grief you had to go through. The grief part should never had to be a consideration if there weren't people in places of authority that make you wonder how they ever got there or why they are allowed to stay. I am very proud of all that you have accomplished in that hellhole on your own.

Nice. I'll admit, though, it wasn't always on my own. There was desperation and loneliness. There was destructive behavior. But I also had an army of people to help; it just wasn't always the people it perhaps should have been.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

She winks at ironies

Cassandra Wilson interview in PASTE magazine this month. The interviewer asked her if she sees herself differently now than earlier in her career. She replies with,

I'm a lot more confident. More sure of what my work is as a musician. I have a clear idea of what I want to accomplish, even if it's still an impossible task. Because you never find what you're looking for. That's the thing. You always get close to it--but I feel more confident about getting closer to it now.

I was really lucky; I got to see her in concert in GradShitTownVille a few years ago.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Very American

I've decided to dedicate my dissertation to my dog. I write this as she snores loudly at the foot of my bed.

A Gem of a Short Story

From the book I'm reading, Varieties of Disturbance by Lydia Davies.


I don't know if I can remain friends with her. I've thought and thought about it -- she'll never know how much. I gave it one last try. I called her, after a year. But I didn't like the way the conversation went. The problem is that she is not very enlightened. Or, I should say, she is not enlightened enough for me. She is nearly 50 years old and no more enlightened, as far as I can see, than when I first knew her twenty years ago, when we mainly talked about men. I did not mind how unenlightened she was then, maybe because I was not so enlightened myself. I believe I am more enlightened now, and certainly more enlightened than she is, although I know it's not very enlightened to say that. But I want to say it, so I am willing to postpone being more enlightened myself so that I can still say a thing like that about a friend.

And the cover is brilliant. It looks faded, but with a perfect photograph of a fly; it is so perfect that the clerk at the library was startled, and tried to brush it off.

Today's Theme Song

Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, parts I and II

Those evil natured robots, they're programmed to destroy us. She's gotta be strong to fight them, so she's taking lots of vitamins. 'Cause she knows that it'd be tragic if those evil robots win. I know she can beat them.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Probably three years ago, maybe more. My dad is visiting for the summer. I'm telling him about some professor who hasn't been very nice to me. He says, quite seriously,

"You want me to go down there and beat the shit of him for you? And you know, if I beat the shit out of him, he ain't gonna walk for six months."

Happy Father's Day, a little bit late.

Go Ahead, Make My Day

My friend Moira is about a week away from her defense. She is very stressed, understandably. The defense is a huge deal; it is the end of a six year struggle against inner and outer demons. Freaking out is a natural response.

I am 38 days away from my defense. I sort of wish I were freaked out. Instead, I have this weird serenity; the same serenity that comes from hiking 20.5 miles around Waldo Lake. I'm exhausted, but looking back on a great achievement.

I feel a bit like Dirty Harry: Clint Eastwood's cop role. Dedicated moviegoers must remember the scene. Dirty Harry has been chasing this evil-doin' punk through streets and traffic and city rooftops. The punk is cornered. He's on the ground. Harry's got a .44 magnum in his face. Did Harry shoot 5 or 6 times? Is there a bullet left in the chamber? And Harry says,

But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?

Had lunch with a friend today. I was trying to explain that I really ought to be more freaked out than I am. I should be like Moira. I should be working 10 hours a day finishing up all these tidbits and loose ends. I should be trying to publish one more paper. I should...

But somewhere between the DickHeadAdvisor, the weekly acts of sexual discrimination, and living in a over-pollinated, narrow-minded hell on earth, I'm just too tired to care. And then I said, surprising even myself,

"They are just going to pass me. Of course they are. If they don't, they better know that someone's gonna get pushed down the stairs."

Ask me again when I've got 10 days to go.