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May. 19th, 2009 | 10:42 pm
music: constantines - song a day 618: our age

C.

Or is it just that bit of distraction, a loss of self, an experience outside the real one, whatever you want to call it, transcendence or unity?

When you're a kid you find it in the disorientation of spinning or somersaults, and growing up you progress to music, sex, alcohol, drugs, extreme sports. As a grown-up you're expected to be content with obsessing over work, power, or exercise. The more forthright seek existence beyond the worldly in religion, meditation, or the generations that will live after them. The nonprofit types look to improve the future world as their experience outside the present one.

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No, I guess I never really found that secret tunnel

May. 19th, 2009 | 09:24 pm
music: ida maria - oh my god

B.

Why is it unfailingly books, and never films or music or news reports or firsthand experience? These things shake me, but never for more than a few hours or days at most. I have a longtime theory that books are just more personal than anything else - it's just your and thin sheets of paper, moving at your own pace, absorbing your visual and auditory and internal streams of consciousness. The bare words on page force you to fill in the details of appearance, meaning, tone, and depth, without a lighting designer, casting agent, or music director to cue your impressions and emotions. And since you're actively involved in all of these aspects, they're more salient, like your own dreams.

Unless it's just me. Beginning in elementary school and less in middle school, I told my friends about the coolest movie I'd seen, and how beautiful the costumes were and how compelling the music was and I was so successful that they'd ask their parents to take them. But they couldn't find the movie showing anywhere or that the movie had ever been made, because of course, it hadn't - I was describing books and had just gotten a little confused.

I have a history of confusing fiction, personal or otherwise, with the timeline of events that others accept. I used to tell my parents' friends about fun things I'd done with my family, like camping in multiple treehouses in Riverdale Park near our house and how we'd brought up makeshift furniture and made friends with nearby campers and even caught some burglars trying to escape from a nearby robbery. And my mom would tell me not to tell lies and I was always very confused, but I decided that my mom just didn't want to share our adventures and so I kept them to myself for years and years.

And to this day before I talk about that awesome time I got to ride an elephant or speak in front of the school or see a deadly car accident happen, I have to check with a parent or two to see if it actually happened versus was a particularly good or bad dream. I feel like I should say that I felt super uncomfortable when I slowly figured all this out, but it just felt like a normal part of growing up, watching the realm of possibilities narrow before your mind's eye.

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Too many questions that aren't answered in novels

May. 19th, 2009 | 08:57 pm
music: vetiver - everyday

A. (in an homage to cs's recent barrage)

I choose novels based on the style of their prose more than anything else. And when I encounter a narrator who writes the way I think, or the way I'd like to think, I overidentify. I work my way into an ethically disoriented (All the President's Men), intellectually adrift (Mating), or [other] mindset of whomever I happen to be inside the mind of, rapt, for hours on end. And there I remain, in a simulated state of being, for weeks to months until I move on to a new voice.

Maybe I should choose my reading material based on tentative life direction to galvanize my resolve rather than deciding that I am as frustrated as Elizabeth Costello or as calculating as Holly Golightly. I thought I was done with Charlie's overwhelming emotions by the time I read The Stranger, which led me to believe or be absurdly (pun haha) detached for the next two years. But then the world took on a tragic glow for at least six months after the events of Dolores Price's life took their toll. Binx Bolling and I took a wandering year plus around the country before I landed right back where I started, dealing with the demands of Jeanette Winterson's family. (P.S. I am violently, violently aware that almost all of the female characters mentioned were written by men. Frustration for another post.)

Or maybe I could reread all of these and all of the others, in quick succession, before any one voice can take over my mind, to convince myself once and for all that no one character can define my past and present. Would it be worth it to ruin the magic? Is it even possible?

So every time I say that I just finished the best book I've ever read, I guess I really mean that I feel like you should read it too if you want to understand who I'm going to be until I read the next Great Novel.

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Redefining the leisure class

May. 18th, 2009 | 10:01 pm
music: farewell continental - do you wanna tangle

It's been about a month. Since I last posted I have: led security for two concerts, taken a research trip to Pittsburgh, basically had and then lost a funded six-month trip to Egypt, had eye surgery, spent an epic weekend in New Orleans, redefined cano(e)dling.

I'm truly unemployed for the first time since 2004 and I am really, really excited about it. I have few obligations except getting a paper ready to present in October and a thesis to submit in December. So, I might get a job, I might not. I might take classes, I might not. Plans for now: trips for the next six weekends, a pile of books to read, jaunts to the dog park, pies to bake. I've also got a backlog of stuff I want to think/write about, so hopefully I'll be posting more too.

Sometimes I fantasize about being smart enough that I could enjoy a nontraditional yet nontrivial life - one without a job or schedule where I could travel or spend the day at the park whenever I wanted, but still contribute to society in a meaningful and somewhat intellectual way. Basically an influential political personality or a freelance essayist. Can someone help me with making that happen?

[EDIT 5/19] So being shortsighted as I am, I totally forgot that I'm going to be on a boat for about ten days and unable to post. So expect a barrage of posts before and after I leave, and my apologies for the lack of a steady stream. I always prefer steady streams.

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A call for papers!

Apr. 16th, 2009 | 02:59 pm
music: noisettes - don't upset the rhythm

For those of us lucky enough to still live in academia, it's that familiar time of year where we all scramble to finish up term papers, theses, cover letters, etc. Or, if you're like me, it's the time of year where your room is unbelievably clean and you are up-to-the-minute on current events and email correspondence. You might also update your LJ more than usual...

I like to edit my friends' papers and personal statements. Not only because everyone needs an editor and I like to bank the favor, but they're fun to read. Part of it comes from liking to watch people in their element - seeing your friends while they're working or performing, or going about their everyday routine. With papers, I get to see what people are working on and are interested in. Especially as the personal and the professional sides of each of us are starting/trying/hoping to merge, we're trying to avoid boring myself during the process. But even though I'm working on issues I care about, sometimes I get frustrated when I work really hard on something, the professor reads it and gives me a grade and some feedback, and then... it dies. It all starts to seem a little pointless. Shouldn't ten-pagers be the start of a conversation, not the end of it?

Send me your papers! Send me something you're proud of, or interested in, or want to talk to about. Send me things from disciplines I don't know much about or send me things I'll be able to challenge you on. Dig up stuff from the past. Forward your C.V.s, thesis proposals, and important memos of the future. It may take me a few days, but I'll hit you back with my thoughts and questions. If you don't have my contact info there should be an email address on my LJ info.

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In my free time, I contemplate how I could rock a mullet.

Apr. 16th, 2009 | 12:43 am
music: dirty projectors - stillness is the move

Office jobs leave you with a good bit of free time. I had one, I know, and I have never been so up on current events/web junk. Luckily, some of my friends in similar situations are creating more entertaining internet material with their excess moments. Check these three out; there's something for everyone.

Out in 17 syllables, for fans of the gay and the haiku and both at once

A collaborative work, begun Monday, devoted to haiku about coming out. Haiku are clearly the most hilarious poetic form. I've seen some upcoming material, and trust me, it's to die for. I bet they also take submissions to be credited?

Highlight so far:
Mom lets go shopping!
There’s a great sale at Dillards!
Perks of a gay son.


Sober April, for fans of schadenfreude

Because Rob hates himself, he's decided to be sober for all of April. I'm just posting it now because I'm shocked that he's made it this far and hasn't gotten exponentially pissier. Although, to be fair, the best parts of the blog are the pissy parts. To be unfair, much of the fun on the site is from the drinking days of yore. See: Photos Before section, video of a homemade "Baconator Shot". Supporters still welcome to sign up!

My favorite part:
Rob's obsessive chronicling of his virgin beverages. E.g. ginger beer, Izze, three waters. He tries to rattle them off like a bartender, you can tell it hurts...

Overarching, for people who like to "read" and "learn" without getting bored

Based on the assumptions that "(2) it is OK to be as intelligent as you can possibly be, and (3) every possible subject is deserving of concentrated attention", Bryan writes intelligent, thorough posts about everything from toilet flushes to Joan Didion to hapax legomenon. Plus, he updates regularly.

My favorite part:
When Bryan drops something pseudo-personal that makes you want him to talk about himself, for more than two sentences, as opposed to physics and art. This not only blows my mind, but probably violates the #1 rule of blogging: people will always talk about themselves and will do it MORE when encouraged. E.g. I am usually not afraid at all of getting old. The sooner I can start to lose more responsibilities than I gain in a year, I think I’ll be back on the path to the pure existence (pure being ball thing) of a newborn baby. And then he goes back to his discussion.

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This is my last post of the day, definitely.

Apr. 6th, 2009 | 10:12 pm
music: mow the lawn!



There's a French version too.

Thoughts? Here's Salon's take.

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Righteous indignation

Apr. 6th, 2009 | 05:33 pm
mood: livid

My landlord just weedwhacked my herb garden!!!

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Universal truths

Apr. 6th, 2009 | 12:52 pm
location: porch
music: the measure [sa] - old crow

I realize that there are more important universal truths such as impermanence, suffering, the relativism of all truths, etc. But today we're going to talk about one of the most visible and undeniable ones: that people end up with other people who are about as good-looking as they are. Another universal truth is that universal truths have at least one exception, and here it's when money or power intervenes.

Otherwise, think about it. Not dates or hookups, but couples are generally well-matched. I'm sure you're thinking - I know this couple or I saw this pair making out in the street, but they're only notable to you because they exist outside the mainstream. It's exploited for comic effect whenever Mike Myers or Woody Allen is onscreen, though never with a hot man and plain woman... We always note unusual images! For most of the people most of the time, the overwhelming, stabilizing tendency is toward physical compatibility. We're not talking r^2 = .99, but rather, people date within about .4 of a standard deviation of their level if you norm them to .5 on the hot distribution.

Corollary: if you want to know how attractive you *really* are, scan some photos of your exes. Beat. After that sobering realization, let's talk about possible explanations why.

Sociology: Due to our relative position in the group, we value attractiveness based on how attractive we ourselves are. Maybe being hot makes you realize how valuable being hot is, and you don't settle (and don't have to.) Being homely makes you realize that homely people aren't all bad.
Physics: Gravitational pull. Maybe people aren't at the same attractiveness when they pair up, because they're blinded by the sex haze or someone's sparkling wit, but you'll go to the gym more often if your body looks flabby in comparison in your homemade porn; or, you stop giving a shit about putting on makeup if you always look good next to your mate.
Psychology: People think they're only "good" enough for people about as attractive as themselves and vice versa.
Economics: Profit maximization. All other things held equal, we seek a mate as attractive as possible. When everyone exhibits this behavior, each person pairs with another at precisely their level.
Biology: It's Darwinian. Who are we to thwart the line of descent?
Literary theory: I don't understand lit theory. If you do, or can at least fake it, please add to the list.
Leigh theory and a few notesCollapse )

Note to reader: I know I'm missing some disciplines here. Anthropologists, mathematicians, historians, chemists, linguists, philosophers, geographers, statisticians - whatcha got for me? I'm particularly interested in anyone who can make a quantum / random theory work.

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A brief respite from serial monogamy // Give me a break, I haven't posted about boys in a while.

Apr. 4th, 2009 | 10:52 pm
location: work
music: metric - help i'm alive

How to ensure that your love life gets dramatic; or, why dating around is more complicated than it sounds:

(1) Move around a lot. This ensures that relationships start feverishly and fail to end in a normal fashion, or to end at all. What happens instead is that frequency of phone sex changes, and/or you keep up with your exes via their changing hairstyles, and/or you have a list of different people to call when you're in different cities.

(2) Be involved in multiple activities. This way you can date someone from different workplaces, organizations, social groups, bands, etc., and proceed to play the six degrees game. If you go out with someone who knows some of your work friends and writes for the same publication with someone else you're dating from one of your classes -- you've done this well.

(3) Try to diversify your pool. I'm not just talking about race/ethnicity, but here we're looking to alternate between Republicans and socialists, homeowners and underage drinkers. Sometimes you'll have to change outfits between two parties on the same night. This is okay.

(4) Date marginally outside respectability. Not that I have ever been the "other woman", but there are other personal and professional reasons when you can't tell people you're seeing someone. You too can be in a situation in which some of your friends are enlisting you to find a date for their friend, whom you are in fact already dating.

(5) Live in a small town / college town. Due to a combination of (2) and (3), the people you're dating will often appear at the same event, in the same edition of a local magazine, and/or hate each other.



[Sidenote: This was fun for about two weeks and now I'm tired of it. When I am tired after a long Saturday at work, I don't want to have to see how my texting goes to find a place to read, quietly, far from the bar noise by my house. Or, enter vacuum box.]

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Because everybody's doing it, or Erica's LJ title.

Mar. 26th, 2009 | 05:27 am
music: the pains of being pure at heart / self-titled

Everyone is posting lately!

Here are things I have recently meant to write about, or began writing about, but clearly did not:

worrying about strangers,
why I did not shave my boy legs before attending a frat formal on the beach,
my new favorite book Mating,
that I don't believe in being "scarred for life",
how to perfectly caramelize most vegetables,
getting in touch with my heritage,
masculinity studies,
realizing how enjoyable party/hookup culture can be,
mourning EFCA, and
losing a spelling/grammar bee on a nine-letter adjective that means "tiny".

My hair is crooked. I am uncharacteristically social. I go out all the time and have been feeling slutty without (really) backing it up. I am encouraging others to blog their little hearts out but never finish anything to post. I am focusing on quality time with old friends before they or I leave Gainesville but I keep meeting new people. I listen to nothing but The Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Camera Obscura, which means that I am really feeling The Smiths but I'm too happy at the moment to indulge. I am trying to structure my life according to lists and charts of my priorities yet somehow I usually end up waking up at 3am to finish shit that is actually important to me. I have traded layers and shoes with structure for tan lines, and feel only a little less sexy.

In terms of practical things I may have a full-time job in June or I might not. I could pack up and leave Florida forever on May 2 or I might be back in August. Really, I have nothing factual to report in this section, so maybe instead I'll begin a separate post about the fun of being in a liminal psychological space. Or more likely not, and I'll post something in three weeks about the clothes I'm throwing away or grammar.

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How to enjoy a sunny drive through generic American highways

Mar. 3rd, 2009 | 08:04 pm
mood: bright

It's hot and your AC doesn't cut it. Or if it does, pretend it's the early 50s and you don't have one yet. Roll down all the windows, lose your shoes and shirt. Ladies, the bra is up to you. Work on that tan.

Pick out mix CDs with familiar melodies and simple lyrics. I'm talking 90s nostalgia, epic singalongs, bands you wouldn't list on your facebook. Now is not the time for experimentation or delicate arrangements, not with the volume up to cover the wind. It's too loud to hear DeVotchKa's violin, or the ringing of your phone, or the nagging to-do items that are irritating your mind's eye.

Before you're sung out but while you're still on the upswing of the drive, cup your hand out the window. Feel the air accumulate - it's fluid, after all - and notice the texture of the compressed air in your palm. Is texture even the right word? It's too smooth to have surface variation.

Your ass is going to feel like it's separating from the rest of you pretty soon. Inch around, throw a leg out the window, but it's not going to make you feel better. Channel that itch into a restlessness for the road!

Think about the novels you meant to write and the friends you meant to make. You had brilliant ideas and beautiful moments but fuck them all because you're on your way to better ones, you can just feel it.

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