I Need Some Fresh Eyre

In which Ms. Blue Jeans balances bohemian with bourgeois and tries to live the Snoopy dance.

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Location: Charlottesville, VA, United States

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Longest. Hiatus. Ever.

Everything is so not what it was when I started this blog, except that Khakipants is still around (and now, according to his mom and everyone else old-fashioned, I'm Mrs. Khakipants). So not, in fact, that I toyed with the idea of deleting everything that's gone, depressing as the Bataan Death March, before. But that feels dishonest, so I'm just going to immortalize my original introduction/subtitle/explanation/call to arms (In which Ms. Blue Jeans begins and, one hopes, continues graduate school in English. And, let's face it, perseverates her relationship, her studies, her raison d'etre, and her hair.) and move on with the understanding that this is a new chapter and maybe even a new volume.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Truth Of Which I Have Been Convinced

To whatsoever upright mind, to whatsoever beating heart I speak, to you it is committed to educate men. By simple living, by an illimitable soul, you inspire, you correct, you instruct, you raise, you embellish all. By your own act you teach the beholder how to do the practicable. According to the depth from which you draw your life, such is the depth not only of your strenuous effort, but of your manners and presence.

Everything I Know...

You can be a college professor and wear your hair down, read Tipping the Velvet, and go home and sack out with That 70's Show...

Monday, March 06, 2006

Dirty Laundry

Lourdes: Mom, you know they say that you are gay?

Madonna: Oh, do they? Why?

Lourdes: Because you kissed Britney Spears.

Madonna: No, it just means I kissed Britney Spears. I am the mommy pop star and she is the baby pop star. And I am kissing her to pass my energy on to her.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Oy Gevoy

Look at my entry on Valentine's Day. Why is this my life?


Weird. I've been back in Boston for six hours and my fingers smell like a paper clip, which was not something I was aware was possible -- indeed, if I'd been asked whether paper clips had a smell, I'd've said no. But they do. And it's transferable. And it makes me wonder about the essence of things, whether there is some glowing core of realness that makes a thing the thing in question. Ha ha, John Rubadeau, "things" is my leitmotif! It is not, in fact, bearded men, because they recede to the periphery, to East Lansing and Britton and Albion and Chelsea and Orange County and Jackson (I myself receded from Ann Arbor, slowly, piece by piece, like a hairline) -- but! it is periphery that makes shape. My periphery is the shape of me. Ahhh, rhyming.
Jake sometimes writes down things I say when I talk, which is both satisfying and discomfiting. I both like and dislike the sense of permanence it gives to chatter. Like it because it makes me feel important and as though my words are making a small blue-lined impact, red ink; dislike it because what is he doing with those words and sentences that my mind spun suddenly, once he's concretized them into scrappy little objects outside my ken and control? If it were me, writing, I'd save them up like a squirrel to use later or to make a Jake to talk with when he's not talking. I don't want to be caught in inconsistency or cowardice or failure.... YAAAAAY!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Word Vomit, Part One

Over the last days, I have spoken to Dave about some of the things that Jake and no longer speak about (we just recite and don't listen). Dave listens, albeit with his oddly blank eyes behind which the next outpouring is processing (eerie self-recognition), and answers, and in some ways that's a relief, to be talking to someone who will discuss it at length and with consideration. And all through this I just know I'm not wrong. I can't articulate what's happening or why it's not right. But I am only more sure: I'm not wrong about this. In some sense, this realization actually hamstrings me, because with the realization in hand I have to decide what to do with it. And I do nothing. And I cry. And I have short periods of time where I come as close as I have ever come to hating anyone or anything. Right now, I'm having the same reaction to Ben and MTC that I had to the yeshiva rabbis almost three years ago now: You awful, awful, blind men! These are people! Not mechanisms! Not replaceable, fungible, and defined only by their breathing and their willingness to keep walking! But if that's how Dave and Jake want to be defined... and doesn't it seem like it, with the new "It's not me, it's what I'm doing" mantra? Isn't that, actually, the definition of robotics? Maybe it would need a tweak, to "I'm not me, I'm what I'm doing." I can respect an action. But I can't love it. And if that's all there is, then that's all there is, and instead of a hard loud break there is only a sickening slow tear, that I feel alone and soundlessly. Behind the blank eyes there is a new soapbox percolating but there is also a bizarre emotionlessness. There is motion and there is emotion and, I guess, a balance is a choice, a choice to be balanced. The scale falls toward motion. There is no distinction between what is important and what is urgent when you're running shoulders to the harness and blinkers on.
He says he's the drowning one but all around him are people with arms out and life-saving devices, calling out how amazingly he's doing. And I just sit and tread water and it's so quiet and there is no one, at all, who notices or cares or even thinks about it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

I Heart Robert Penn Warren

People (apparently) post little blogtags that say what they've been listening to, which is, I guess, as good a way as any to let the soul peek out when the eyes are closed or far away.

I like it. My soul's been craving some peeking. But since the person who doesn't hold some part of my musical taste in shocked contempt is a rare beast (which may be why I continue to date the man I do), I'm going the novel route -- 'swhat my soul likes best anyhow.

"...something happens, or almost always happens, to the gaiety, the brilliance, the communion. You remember the individual words from the old language you spoke together, but you have forgotten the grammar. You remember that steps of the dance, but the music isn't playing anymore. So there you are."
--- Robert Penn Warren, All the King's Men (restored edition), Harcourt 2002, 589.

Did somebody once ask whether memory was more man's burden or blessing? If not, I do.

"So the summer went on, and we all lived in it. It was a way to live, and when you have lived one way for a while you forget that there was every any other way and that there may be another way again."
ATKM 459

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Nothing Up Till That Point Had Even Been Resolved

I am tempted, sometimes, to send a mass email -- to Dave, to Gina, to Amy, to Ben, to the whole Mississippi world that is of but not in mine -- that consists of nothing more than The Consequence Kids, just that, just because I think I'm the last person in the world that remembers what's being foregone. There's more than one kind of philanthropy and more than one kind of hook to catch an unsuspecting lip.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Remember Sex?


Saturday, February 11, 2006

Tails California

Finally, a good night's sleep. It almost seemed beautiful, the kind of thing you put on the refrigerator with a magnet because just looking at it makes you feel something unblocked and unadulterated, like you've exfoliated your soul. I woke up with an old familiar voice: "Run." My body craves sunshine and uncramping. I've felt shut up for months. I can feel a warmer place with long stretches of sand like a state of mind on this cold clear morning; my eyes aren't stuck shut with frustration.
I don't want to flee Jake or work. I just want to live a state of mind instead of having my life be sculpted into threadiness by a state of mind. Okay, I'll jump through hoops for another piece of paper. It's what I do. But you can't keep me home, can't keep me shut up and waiting. If I'm not studying, I'm going, I'm living. I'll take what I can get from the co-opt. If someone will let me teach because I know Jake, I'll smile and try not to disappoint. But I'm going to struggle against it just like I did at NELP, even if that means struggling against Jake, too. If he forgets, I don't. I know not only how much I hate it and try to avoid it, but how stupid it is.
"You know Jake?" (Well, you must be okay/crazy).
"You idiots, that's a fluke of scheduling or a destiny of which you are nothing more than a side effect. Jake is not my credential." (I am everything I need to be and I have been always and how you make sense of that is your own muddled business).

Thursday, February 09, 2006

White Devils

At Harvard, one recognizes people from book jackets. In person, in the warm gothic room, their smiles are wider and not enigmatic (to suggest genius and a Cambridge address). All the men and boys are tall have broad shoulders and earth-tone sport coats and shaggy hair and wire-rim glasses that walk a line between metrosexual and scholar as neat as their pants and the corners of the thick Harvard rugs (relative to the wood-panelled wainscoted corners). I find them indifferently attractive as men; as putative professors, they are just as they should be. They are to students as Harvard is to university. It's dizzying and a pleasant place to be at seven o'clock on a dry icy evening.
All this is to say that I don't play second string to anybody.

Howard's Beginning

Hi Keith!
You were right. I'm good at grad school, but it's bad for me. I don't like it much, and I hate being apart from Jake. Real life doesn't come with grades. Miss you.

So where is Jake, Sarah?
Remember -- there are always stories to write! In time you might even make money on them.
I'm tempted to say -- aw, shucks, just come on home. But that would be irresponsible of me. Do what ya gotta do.
Here, I'm working too hard -- but I'm going to teach a class on Great Lakes Literature and Environmental Writing at the biostation this summer. That should be kinda cool.
Take very good care of yourself.
As ever, Keith

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Looking For The Next Right Thing To Do

I washed my pink Nalgene today, while doing a load of dishes as penance for being the Mr. Big of roommates, and realized that my blue Nalgene has been sitting precisely where I put it in August since August. I can't move it now. It's tradition. If I come in in the late afternoon, when a rare unreflected sunglow has come in the window, it casts a modest little blue stain on the blond floor. It's my little cathedral by the bookcase. As I washed the pink, I rubbed off spit that collected in my mouth (and maybe Khaki's) in Montana in May. The spit's still on the blue.

NB: This blog's getting long enough that when you scroll down it -- get this -- it really looks like a scroll. This makes me feel like Jack Kerouac. Further evidence of the affinity? I feel pretty indifferent to women and their sexual favors, but I would like one to wash my dishes.

Small Southern Cities

If Jackson and Charlottesville can balance an equation, then what I want to be doing in Jackson is stalking books, reraveling myself, making a hardwood-floored hippie Eden in the middle of everyone else's everyday, flirting with serendipity and accepting her spare change. I have feverishly spent the last month insisting that that if is no if at all. I developed a resume fetish and began committing my days and hours indiscriminately. Teacher Corps? Sure! Shady alternate route program? Check! Piles and piles of the TPR paperwork and phonecalls I've gloated about not having to be responsible for? I'm your woman!
Ya see, I don't believe (I want to believe) that the scale will balance. I know that Jackson is not Charlottesville. There is no backyard, no cloud-colored rain, and no time for the impudent and the bare-breasted in Jackson.
Jackson -- the word -- is rapidly being paved and repaved gray and heavy with connotations (albeit the kind that beg long Latinate words 'cause they may or may not carry the sober sheen of truth). In Jackson, roads only lead to roads and the lake is manmade. In Jackson, one learns to live with situations that are irreparably broken. In Jackson, whimsy and insistent people from the North are just grimly digested. In Jackson, everybody tells everybody else that they don't know enough to solve the problem. In Jackson, if I am lucky, I am on Jake's coattails or under Jake's arm. If I am not lucky in Jackson, I am the remaindered backwater-city unnotable that Thoreau came so shockingly close to being.
When Johnny Cash sings about Jackson, you can almost hear the tears swallowed in the thickness of his voice. You can put off the worst things you can think of -- the implacable cliche of gender, blank pages, a mind with no counterweight, the asphalt trap, the daily cold surprise of living someone else's life -- with work and being steady and drinking; you can show yourself that everyone else is doing the same thing, so it must be okay. And maybe that's true. But's it's no fucking Charlottesville.

Monday, February 06, 2006


I've taken to thrashing at night, feet yanking out the sheet from its neat pink tuck, rolling until the down comforter rides in ridges, hides my futon-sunk exhausted body. My dreams wake me chasing breath. They are bizarre but serious-seeming: I drive a school bus in a short skirt; Tom Cruise makes my childhood friend Lia eat a live ferret. In my bed in the long night, there is nothing funny about a ferret in the belly.
My nights are my narrative. I spend days with myself, mostly, and the slow stretch of my (undeniable) learning, but also with people who are many things but never endearing. When they scratch my surface, those familiar strangers, they do so with irritations so bound up and mundane that I wonder what alchemy happens to make people laugh with them and love them behind doors. School refuses -- refuses -- to be the story I want to tell. At around eight pm, question time begins (what is a story if not the answer to some question): what is ordinary? what is forgetting? remembering? what are limits and what is growth? who why where what how? To ask requires energy and, I guess, hope. An unexamined life is lived in eleven-hour work days. My days are short. At night they're examined into kicking darkness.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

I Should Be Sleepin

I was looking at the subtitular description of my blog. I hate the word "blog": it sounds like a transcription of retching. Graduate school isn't what this blog is about, is it? Like all my journals, it inevitably devolves into a careless shorthand of the bad nights. I am confused about my audience. The blog format complicates the whole idea of journaling that way. I feel a little tail-chasey thinking about it. Is this a weapon? An outlet? Why should it be weird that Dave reads it?
I blog about myself because I think my self is important. And that's why my money stays, stubbornly, elsewhere than where my mouth is. So to speak.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


If I weren't myself, I'd laugh at myself. Who am I to tell another girl that she should worry when her relationship goes like this: her boyfriend gets all he wants, and she does all she can?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Abandoned It Out West

Alcohol doesn't unwind you. It facilitates an artificial belief that things are other than as they are. That there is not, for example, a noose I can only watch nearing me circularly, all around (aimed at my wrists, not my neck). If drinking were an ethical -- even a real -- cure for awareness, I would be drunk every day just after noon, not because it's socially appropriate but because that's when class ends.
Ryan called today. He's one of the few people who makes me smile involuntarily when I see them or hear their voices. Instead, though, I got an instant bellyache: Shall I bring someone up to date on what feels like a total obliteration of everything I thought was crucial? Or shall I grin and lie and say "Yes, I'm very happy and unambiguously fulfilled in graduate school! I was totally wrong and silly when I spent two years acting as though my relationship were important to me!" Ryan called and I didn't smile. I made up an excuse to get off the phone, because I can't lie to him and I'm so ashamed of the truth. I can't leave, and I'm terrified of what will happen if I stay.
No matter what I do, it will represent a failure. If drinking erased that, people wouldn't keep on knocking back day after day, trying to unwind themselves all the way to their bare-bone spools.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Who's Afraid?

Porter Square Books, at a reading. "Being a writer is heroic, really. You spend a lot of time sitting there by yourself, apparently doing nothing." Julia Briggs, the author, is wearing corduroy, is British to the teeth, is sparkling her way through an oddly upbeat gloss on Virginia Woolf's life and work. The emptiness of the chair next to me seems conspicuous. "He simply told them he wouldn't go back to Sri Lanka." You cannot bring Virginia Woolf to certain places. She addresses only certain inequalities. "In the story, you see her fascination with the things that women can't talk about with men, but of course for that very reason she couldn't publish them."

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

In Defense of Docility

I say what I mean, and I mean what I say. Perhaps my fault is being obedient in Wonderland; nevertheless, I hate useless words. The use -- the propriety -- of a thing may not be immediately obvious to all. Who among us would have seen as quickly as Alice did what the wabe is? Nevertheless, any good girl who has basked quietly in the delight of adults, hands folded, and who moreover has seen the perfect freedom pleasant little-girl silence and compliance gives her to wander the Wonderland inside, knows just so quickly: docility is seductive. Too much growing and shrinking makes one want to say: Yes, please. Only ask me. Only tell me. Only instruct me. My conduct can be pleasing when everything else is shrieking. Let me be quiet and smile. I am not helpless or vacant, sir, only obedient.
There are days when I want nothing more than Joan Baez' instruction to lie back and think of nothing at all. She sings, and I switch off the over-educated harpy and do so. Docilely.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Bon Jovi Blues

I made an iTunes songlist that is supposed to be a minor-key translation of the thick emptiness I feel in my belly. When I listen to it, my mind falls docilely into the pattern of the words. I stare at the white ceiling and don't think. The question is, is this an expression of my mental state, any more? Or an exacerbation? Do the sweet sad songs reflect me or remake me? Something in me winces at AC/DC these days.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Little Moments Like That

Like a quiet hour in the stacks: finding the book I was looking for, getting pleasantly sidetracked along a long narrow aisle of Thackeray and another of linguistics, running cold fingers over etymologies and a little lone paperback lovingly dedicated to the perfection of English metre, sitting in the absolute absorbent silence of a carrel with Clarissa and a pencil.
Like the contented fetish of bibliography-making.
I knew there were reasons I was here.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Attention to T Tales

The sunshine feels exceptional in a city. As I walk around I feel lucky, as if nature had snuck in through a back door we had all thought was sealed up with asphalt -- a circumstance which seems reassuringly happily ever after, the buildings painted bright like the castle at the end of Beauty and the Beast, visual affirmation that everything will be all right and that everyone around you is in on it, too. A round-faced woman smiles when I held the door of Dunkin' Donuts for her; a hollow-cheeked man selling warm-colored intricate paintings in the Porter Square T station tells me I deserved to be spoiled, and that meant to lie on a red brocade chaise longue in front of a fire, my belly stretched for stroking, like the cat in one of his pictures. Maybe I do. But the day feels divorced from merit; the glory is that we none of us really deserve the generous yellow everywhere of summer's open-handed end, and we know it. Serendipity is comforting, I think, even to the irreligious.

Making Lace

The Saturdays get cooler, and pass more easily: in quiet, eager attention to MLA style; in copying and pasting and annotating; in small, pleasing cyber-errands; in smug advisories to old flames on the quenching of new flames; in frying too many potatoes for one and fanning the insistent smell of burnt onions out the back window. I put the fan in the basement. I avoided reading Clarissa (I hear she dies).
I am winding my life, which had been wound around one solid, happy spool, around a series of small anchors. It is a task like tatting, patient, intricate. It can absorb if one calls upon it to do so; it can also be done with one eye on an open window or the flickering of old, recorded images. One must sit still and calm, and it seems to silently reproach any outbursts and flingings with the mess one has made of the threads and the measured time it will take to reweave them.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

And Yet

I would watch him teach for hours; watch enraptured as he negotiated the intricacies of illicit cell phones, Edgar Allan Poe, and parent conferences. A spark in him still lights me; I watch him with the warm, obsessive content with which I watch a campfire.

How You Could Ever Be Anything But Mine

There are seemingly endless permutations of choice, too complex to discretely handle, and my mind swims with rabbis, a white dog, Caren Irr, white-flight academies, the charm of voicemail, the rights of woman, Maine, clogs, cell phones, an MA, bad-assery, Harvard, taxis, Kenny Chesney, and the Oxford English Dictionary.
You see, I think my professor doesn't like me, and I suspect my writing is only persuasive when it's familiar. You see, oh but there's no way to make you see.
In Mexico, I used to walk the streets of the colonia, slowing down past windows and doors, looking, I think, for someone who looked like they spoke my first language. The feeling chilled only in a pleasant, experimental way; I was five minutes from a familiar tongue and five hours from five million. Now it feels a little sinister. I don't know if I'm the walker now, or if I'm closed up in the house, alone with my language and the tangled eddies of my idiolect, choices and significant objects washing around and binding one another, dammed up by my clumsy lonesome lips.


There is no con in my conversations.
We report back and forth, diligently, brows furrowed, like reporters in a serious storm with technically difficult earpieces. We stand awkwardly in clothes too thin for the weather, deafly winding out words for the listeners at home. You can see the blankness in our eyes; we are trying to fill empty rooms.
In the absence of interlocuters, we have forgotten how to stop talking, how to respond with anything but "Hello? Are you there?" Maybe he would make fun of me for saying so, but that seems like more of a meta-question at this point that a residual response to faulty cell phones. Are you there, Jake?
Let me be clear. This is a question I am not allowed to ask. It is counter-productive for me to be displeased; it borders on un-American. Papers remain ungraded, plans bottleneck in the air, when I report from the front: Hello? One less specter of ignorance is beaten back. I may remain silent or I may spill out a staccato play-by-play of a day lived largely in my head. I don't know why I never thought to wonder if the woman in a one-woman show forgets how to speak to someone warmer, solider, more questioning, than the dusty dark.
And this entry I'm caressing into a spit-colored keyboard that's warmer than the air in the apartment, this is just another monologue, one that I have to translate into glowing, passive-aggressive quiet. I am sealed up when I have the telephone pressed to my ear, tense and pigeon-toed like a tween on a blind date and teetering on the verge of apocalypse.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


I'm not driven, he says, the way he thought I was at first. My rooms are narrow, and I'm tripping on strings I laid unknowing when I was twenty-one.
Is that right?
All the time, the carelessly counted two years of walking feeling free, he and I were laying a Hansel and Gretel strand of wet powder, burning slowly behind our heels? We are only now beginning to smell the smoke, perhaps. You can suffocate in your sleep. Choke on a thick smoke of debt and duty and deviation upon deviation.
Maybe the drive to be here was a drive away, if it was a drive at all. I want someone else's blithe, blind confidence that I am not moseying down a path toward quiet desperation. Where is the other strength that I leant upon, walking feeling free? It was the moving that kept us away from the spent, dark air, not moving in a particular direction. It was ourselves, not our flightplan.
Is that right?

Monday, September 19, 2005


The anthems of my quiet hours are changing. I can post a glossy smirking Jake on every wall, but Summer of 69 and Sundown still seem anachronistic. Those songs belong with beige carpet, citrus and sage, oddly placed doors and space shuttered in by the crackling of a Michigan winter. This apartment echoes and smells apple, like the candles that were on sale at the Fenway mall. We are reshaping ourselves to fit these corners, the thin notes and I.
Once, my grandmother's eyelids began to heal together at the corner, top to bottom. Some tiny cellular decision was made; she would be flesh of her own flesh, all of a piece, sightless and smooth. I scratch at my wound.
Wave on Wave, I scratch at the corners. I pick the scab of myself.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

The Ways in Which

A Language is catchable, like a Disease. Some are more pernicious than others; some sink their Teeth into your Brain-stem. Symptoms pop up like Pox: tautology, mimesis, teleological. And spread in thick Rash-rings: the ways in which, a site for, written into, reading into. A Textbook Case.
Give me an Injection of Standard, give me a cold Compress over the Mouth. Give me translation therapy:
Mimesis means what? Monkey-see, monkey-do. A distinguished Doctor once told me I wrote Poems as if I knew what a Poem was, but not what it felt like. We know what Discourse is supposed to sound like. We seek out our Symptoms, docile and diligent. We know that a very bad Irritation of the Skin makes people fear to come closer, even to look closer.

Monday, September 12, 2005

A Discussion of Discussion

My inbox is papered with 250-word "discussion questions." Reading them is a reading assignment in itself. And as I tackle the question of whether by writing Robinson Crusoe Defoe meant to slyly advocate an England devoid of women, I wonder: are these the sorts of questions people realistically choose to dedicate time and pages to? Or are they spiralling higher and wilder, one from another, each hopping leapfrog style over another, and over, and over, into the vast gravity-less distance of Theories, in a quasi-hysterical quest to get a gold star? A text should have a certain gravity, that like our own comfortable pull has many useful functions to make up for its binding nature: it keeps our eyes on the page, even when they're sleepy; it keeps our thoughts weaving among its words and inky worlds; it keeps us, in short, much more than we keep it. This is what a good text does. And the consequence of a text with a strong centripetal force is that if we are reading properly, we should not be flung off into a space where our feet only flail and we have no inky branches to hold on to.

I Blame Literature

Read enough stories and sooner or later you wish you lived your life on the edge of your seat. You want the punctuation of dramatic decisions. It's not the chicken-salad Mondays that are immortalized. If you want to belong to tale and song, you break the bowl; you jump in the lake; you ruin everything. You restrict your admitted experience to the intermittent sparklers of intensity, you restrict your daydreams to behavior designed to shock other people to their socks and you into vividness.
Today's cliffhanger: can the girl who wishes she'd eloped after a month keep herself from dropping something big just to hear the shatter?

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Reading Assignment (Qualified)

I am reading Ian Watt, and I've got a frantic email in my mind:"Skip everything after the second paragraph on page 373! Turn the page quickly! It will give away the plot!"
I turn to the page to mark it, and my eyes skip over it like a furtive forty-niner's, picking out the sparkling italics -- (Clarissa), (Tom Jones) -- and pretending I'm not looking. You see, I'm only trying (dies) to figure out which is the second paragraph (1640) because according to the email (Clarissa) that is a Very Important Paragraph which it would be irresponsible of us to skip.
Occasionally the ridiculousness, the clownishly haphazard quality, of our mission tickles me. We are picking leather-bound Truths out of all history with the fuzzy-minded serendipity with which I sneak words (dies) out of the forbidden paragraphs, and without half so much eagerness.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Pesky Wiggle Scamper, For Flux Sake

How do I describe this?
If today were a person, I would slap him.
Caren: "Who came to grad school to study literature? Because they love literature?"
Me: I am the only person raising my hand.
Fuck every single person in this room, this department, this field, and, what the hey, this state.
There is a dizzy feeling swishing through my torso,
sloshing like I'm sitting on a forty-five degree slant.
I may be so frustrated I've ruptured my inner ear.
For the next twelve hours, if a grad student speaks to me, I'll rupture his inner ear.
I am the only person raising my hand.
If this is FLUX, I say it sucks.
An hour and a half for "Flux: Progression, Regression, and Stasis." "Flux: Boundaries, Ruptures, and Dead Ends." Our title and theme: we take a word that out of context could mean dysentery or not and then we define it. We know we are graduate students because we get together in overheated packs and define words badly. We know we are graduate students because we cannot actually name anything, because a name by definition is new. We know we are graduate students because what we really need in order to name this graduate student conference is some high-schoolers and maybe a bright eight-year-old. The sort of people who prefer the word "pesky" to the word "eschatological." "Wiggle" to "passivation." "Scamper" to "orality." We are preening retarded Adams with a collective speech impediment, our words rolling packets of syllables dry as dust.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


I watched him go through security at the airport, watched for twenty minutes. It was a kind of goodbye-cum-theater of the absurd; as he unbelted and deshoed and as the security personnel rummaged and squinted and traced his leanness with an electronic cricket bat, I watched. Afterward, outside, the thick heat that kept us sleeping at a sweaty distance lifted in a sudden cold breath of breeze. It was like having the covers yanked off unexpectedly, or a sweet warm presence gone from my side. If the abrupt lonely cold hadn't been true and picking at the gaps in my now too-thin plaid shirt, I wouldn't have believed it.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

New Shoes, Clean Face

The first two days were warm-up. The classes were undergraduate; the pattern was simple and collective; the people wore nametags and first-day-of-school outfits and spoke of uncomplicated things. We were all in the mood to congratulate ourselves for being here and even the sun posed for the cover of the brochure.
And I knew it was school because Jake was by my side, driven out of Mississippi by a furious wind with a waitress' name.
Michigan, Mississippi, Massachusetts: all from a Native American root meaning "great." There was a blurring of (state) lines. His hand in my hand, my books in my backpack, his face in my mornings, my head on his shoulder. Congratulations.