Lord

Good lord! What is going on? I am rarely fully on the internet now that it is summer, if you can imagine such a lifestyle, and the only thing I miss is constantly writing about myself on my blog.

Now we are trying to take it a step further and get off our phones more. We are primarily doing this by verbalizing it. “Just now I thoughtlessly went to grab my phone for no reason but instead I didn’t.” “Good job.” We also shame each other. “HONEY? ARE YOU ON YOUR PHONE” “NO!!!!!!!” [sound of phone being hastily set down]

The internet is amazing and only a fool would say otherwise. But why do we have to have it with us everywhere all the time? Why do we have to look at Facebook. Facebook is a disaster, it’s a nightmare, it’s like selling your data to the military or some shit, and even leaving nefarious corporate surveillance aside do we really need to see some random acquaintance’s dumbass uncle weighing in on Hillary Clinton? Look pal, I’ve got my own problems. Okay, but, do I think this is ever going to change? Do I think people are going to for some reason stop looking at their phones every second while they’re talking to each other? Do I think we will ever go back to landlines and answering machines with the big buttons you punch down to hear somebody’s busted voice leaving you a message from hours ago? Am I a goddamn fool? No. But I do have control over my own life and I have to believe that with enough will power I am physically capable of not looking at my phone every two seconds. I have to believe that, as an adult human with a reasonable intelligence, I am capable of doing that. So far I have not proven that I am capable of it, but I have to continue believing that I am. I would get a flip phone except I love google maps too much. Lord these choices, what have I become

I’ve started feeling this pathetic desire to protect my mind, like a baby animal that can’t fend for itself. Warding off evil influences. It is absurd and terrifying how hard it is to just put the phone down, some days. What is even on there? I deleted all my apps and now I don’t even have enough storage space to take a video, but I’m still looking at it all day long? I’m just like scrolling between instagram and literally the weather app, I don’t even have anything ON my phone! Why am I looking at it?? Why am I checking my email at midnight on a Friday while on a dinner date? My EMAIL??? Gotta make sure I get that email from Cornell West or the Humane Society email full of graphic pictures of people killing dogs, right? I certainly should not eat dinner and go to bed on a Friday night without making sure I check up on that situation!! The world needs my hot takes!

I do like instagram. The only celebrities I follow are Chelsea Peretti and Erykah Badu

I don’t mean to sound judgmental; I understand what our contemporary condition is and I am fully a part of it too, even though I don’t understand how the Cloud works.

I love texting with friends

I love that texting and email have enabled me to stay close with a couple really important friends, even after moving across the country.

I love google maps

But I hate my phone. And I hate google. I google things constantly, all day long. I love google. Google is watching me type this right now.

HAPPY SOLSTICE. We went to a solstice party and I ate watermelon and threw the rinds to a bunch of chickens. It was a potluck and three different people brought pesto, including us

My old man is teaching a science fiction class next fall so we are watching a lot of old sci-fi from the 1950s. It’s very interesting. We have learned that H.G. Wells was apparently a total fascist; that the original Godzilla is actually an amazing, affecting, and pretty arty film with an incredible score, we both cried and then dreamed about it, it’s about the atomic bomb in a deep and profoundly tragic way, and there’s this long scene where Godzilla is just sitting underwater like thinking about his life and how the earth has been violated to its very core while this incredibly sad music plays and a scientist in an old-timey diving suit stares at him in shared sorrow and then they both choose to die; that 1950s American sci fi rarely explores what is actually interesting in a given scenario because it’s too focused on serving as American propaganda about how great American heroic men are at defeating commies; that John Carpenter’s The Thing is superior to the Howard Hawks original in spite of the presence of a fast-talkin’ dame in the latter; that in spite of apparently being a total fucking fascist sociopath, H.G. Wells’s novel is better than the 1961 version of “The Time Machine”; and that the American remake of Godzilla from 1956 is too stupid to watch even if it does star a foxy young Raymond Burr (me: “that looks like Raymond Burr!” gary: “it IS Raymond Burr”) because it’s literally just clips from the original movie with Raymond Burr narrating on top of it, and American voices dubbed over the Japanese ones, and Asian Americans cast in the roles of Japanese people who interact with Raymond Burr when he isn’t just narrating clips from the real movie, so it looks like everyone in Tokyo speaks flawless English with a Californian accent, in 1956. Like we see a clip from the original film, of Japanese dudes talking in Japanese about how Godzilla came out of the sea and killed everyone for their scientific hubris, and then we cut to Raymond Burr leaning over to his Japanese friend and being like “Say my Japanese is pretty rusty, what the hell are they yammerin’ about” and then the other guy then just tells him the expository material from the first film, just in English. “They are saying Godzilla came out of the sea and killed everyone for our hubris, you know, the bomb and stuff.” What a racket!

I write every day and then I work in the garden. I don’t know what I am doing.

We are leaving for ten days to go to a family reunion and then to visit a sick friend. My suitcase has mostly books and notebooks in it, and herbal allergy pills.

I wish I had a pair of cute clogs

I’m growing my hair out again, even though it never goes well

I want to read some more dystopian fiction, any recommendations? I have read so much of it, but want more. I wish China Mieville would write another book, what the hell is that man doing, running Marxist conferences or what? WRITE MORE BOOKS CHINA, IF YOU ARE READING THIS.

Our CSA started. We got a shitload of garlic scapes and made pesto. We made way too much pesto. Nobody needs that much pesto. We ate it for dinner and then took it to that solstice party, and we have to eat it again tonight; everyone is sick of the damn pesto. I also ate an entire watermelon the other day and I would have done it again yesterday except there weren’t any in the store. I have these terrible vices, like mineral water and imported fruit, and I struggle against them but often cave. My will power is actually not that great (see above re: phone). We do what we can! LOL that’s obviously not true

I read a booklet about hip dysplasia and rejoined the YMCA, because I learned that exercise doesn’t necessarily make it worse, it just hurts, so who cares. I paid the extra money to get the nice locker room that has the sauna. Bourgeois life baby! With a key to keep out the plebes! Back on the elliptical I go. The nice locker room also has a dimly-lit chill-out yoga space that I monopolize. The last time I went, a lady was doing her hair for the entire time I was stretching, then showering, then changing. She had like three different brushes and several products and her own hairdryer. I got out of the shower and got dressed and raked my fingers through my weird shitty non-haircut and she goes “THAT’S A NO-FUSS CUT!” and it was pretty unclear if she was judging me or approving of me, or if we were both merely regarding one another with a purely anthropological interest. The other night I dreamed I had Helena Bonham Carter’s hair in “A Room with a View” and I woke up filled with longing, but some things are simply not meant to be and that is okay. Anyway, can you imagine how much maintenance that hair takes? I bet you spend two hours a day just dealing with it. Who has the time? Rich 19th century ladies lounging about in Florence, playing Beethoven even though mother says it makes them peevish, that’s who.

Our apple tree isn’t going to bloom this year because an early thaw followed by a sudden frost shocked it. I am so sad about this, I had really been looking forward to seeing it in full bloom. Crossing fingers for next year, but these days who knows (global warming).

We bought an award winning board game called Caverna that has over 300 individual carved wooden pieces, and a 24-page rule book with an 11-page appendix. We had to watch YouTube videos to figure out how to play it. It is AWESOME.

Going in to my new office in the basement tomorrow, gonna arrange the furniture and see if I can hook up my printer. Maybe get a mini fridge up in that shit, get a coffee maker. Really gonna “inhabit the space” now that I finally get my own office. Play some ragtime in there, I don’t give a damn. Continue trying to memorize the Tristan chord, which is weirdly hard for me. Such a great chord! Come on!

Concluding by giving my hot take on the Tristan chord: it’s a great chord

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tiny antique ink pot in which to display small flowers

I have been working like a skunk; it is a beautiful feeling. I can’t say enough good things about it. I have been wondering why I find my work so unbelievably satisfying–it’s unlike any job I have ever had in my life, in that sense, even teaching, which I love. I wake up every morning excited to get into writing and I go to bed every night excited for it to be morning again so I can get back into it. I am taking today off because the bug man is coming to cleanse our home of this actually terrifying scourge of carpenter ants we think was stirred up when the tree fell on our fence, and I am also getting the first massage I have had in two years!!!!!!!!! But I’m excited to get back in tomorrow. I don’t want to jinx my pleasure by talking about but I also want to get it down so I can remember it during trying times.

Working with a book coach I think helps a lot. One thing I find very difficult is writing into a void; writing something hoping someday somebody will read it. Now I have deadlines and an actual human who will read it quickly and be like “this is garbage, you fool.” It’s awesome

It’s funny that my career actually does consist of three equal parts, just like everyone always says, and just like it says in my contract. I never realized how separate the three parts would actually feel. Teaching, research, service. And summer is amazing not because it’s a vacation, exactly, but because it’s the only time during the year when you get to just do ONE of the parts, EXCLUSIVELY and for an EXTENDED PERIOD. It is fucking heavenly; I feel like I am a King.

Remember this, myself, no matter what else happens, regardless of tenure decisions, just remember that it is fun to work like this.

Somebody asked me the other day if I’d want to chair the department one day if we switched to that model (purely a hypothetical question, nobody wants me to chair this department–can you imagine?? Within one week it would be a smoking crater in the earth) and I said I would rather gnaw off my own arm. They looked surprised and then they were like…..yeah, me too.

Yesterday I literally spent about 20 minutes staring out the window and thinking, HARD, about how to end capitalism, so I could write about it in my book. News flash: I didn’t come up with anything

We went go-karting with our young, energetic, springy friends and my husband t-boned me and it was legitimately scary and I almost cried and our young friends felt so bad and worried about me and I was very embarrassed, and the next day I was genuinely in kind of a lot of pain but pretended it was funny. I would go go-karting again

GARDEN REPORT:

Something amazing happened. I have told this story to so many people and everyone finds it boring: when we moved into this house there was a huge 10×3 strawberry patch in the yard and I freaked out. But then our neighbor, who is a fancy gardener, told me they were ornamental and weren’t fruit-bearing. So I dug a bunch of them up, and planted actual strawberries there. Then a few weeks ago, my friend Sarah was over, and she was like “oh cool, strawberries!” but she was standing way far away from where I’d planted them, so I was like, huh? Then saw where she was pointing….to a patch of the “ornamentals,” where, indeed, like twenty green strawberries were hiding under the leaves! I SCREAMED. So now it turns out I DO have a huge strawberry patch. Some of them have come in already and they are delicious.

Is that a boring story?? Why does everyone think it’s so boring?? I think about it CONSTANTLY and joy-based adrenaline surges through me.

I’m worried our apple tree isn’t going to bloom. I feel it should be blooming by now. We don’t know what species it is so I can’t google what is normal but I’m pretty sure it missed its chance to flower last month when it got hot and then freezing again.

My sunflowers grow like three inches a day.

Yesterday we drove to Providence to see our friend’s MFA thesis show and it was very fun and we ate vegan chinese food reminiscent of 90s Portland and I loved it. The waitress was so stressfully attentive that we just finally stopped talking and just ate. She was almost taking the fork out of your hand while you were using it. I left her a huge tip; this is a hard world.

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STRANGE NOISES

The other day I came home and saw my husband’s to-do list on the shelf in the entryway. It said:
- bird sounds
- ebirds
- Man Ray translation

Since quitting academia he has developed a passion for birding. He bought a double CD called “Birding by Ear” and is now difficult to go on walks with. He has become obsessed with this catbird he sees sometimes in the neighbor’s tree; on walks with the dog he’ll go stare into the tree until the dog begins sobbing. The other day on the way to a wedding I spotted a wild turkey in a field and he was so excited because his birding app declared this “very rare” for our area.

It turns out, there are so many kinds of birds, and they are all over the place! A pair of bluebirds lives in our yard and the other day one of them shit on my foot. I’ve also become aware of how many outdoor cats live in our neighborhood. Really going down a Jonathan Franzen-esque life narrative at this point, next we will be knocking on neighbors’ doors begging them to keep their cats inside. We are shopping for a birdbath but they are all insanely expensive, it’s just a bowl on a stand, damn!

Then yesterday I came home and saw his new list, which reads:
- saw horses
- decking screws
- lumber

Which I think is perhaps the exact opposite to-do list. He is a man of many mysteries. I think his favorite thing about home ownership is going to the lumberyard; he always comes home exhilarated then spends time out in the yard hammering and sawing and comes in demanding lemonade. He is making us a new section of fence to replace the one that the fallen tree destroyed some months ago.

The garden is blowing up, all kinds of guys sticking their dewy faces out of the dirt and saying hey. At first I was being super organized and keeping track of when/where I planted everything; now I am just throwing shit out there willy nilly. I’m interested to see how it all turns out. I also planted sunflowers which are popping up, and a lavender bed, and a strawberry patch, and six hot pepper plants even though it is not the right climate. Our yard is full to the brim of big fat bees, peace be upon thee my brothers and sisters, it’s a hard world for bees these days.

I’m really looking forward to the election

LOL imagine if someone really said that! LOLOL

I, like everyone, of course have a lot of stupid loud thoughts about Trump, Clinton, Sanders, the upcoming revolution, how meaningless feminism is if it isn’t also anti-capitalist, our new friend who is an Ethiopian refugee who hasn’t seen his mother in 20 years, etc.

But I’ve also been stressed out by how blaring our opinions on the internet increasingly stands in for meaningful action and I don’t want to contribute to that. I have been very guilty of that and I don’t like it. I don’t know what meaningful action even looks like, for me. I would like to be ready for the revolution when it comes. When it comes, it won’t take the form we probably want it to take–it so rarely does, it so often turns into a right-wing military coup or the Muslim Brotherhood or something–and that’s why we need to be ready. How do we get ready? I’m not sure. Probably it involves reading groups. Probably it involves trying to talk substantively with people who we think of as the enemy. I think 90% of the things people are upset about on the internet are probably pretty dumb, BUT that 90% of dumb things sort of stands in for the 10% of real things, which are too immense and overwhelming to deal with, certainly not in 140 characters or fewer. I think all of us know we are mad and scared but we aren’t totally sure what we’re mad and scared about, and that anger and fear comes busting out in all kinds of directions depending on who we are.

But so anyway, did you see Keanu? It’s good!

I hired a book coach using my startup funds. I am writing a book chapter every two weeks, you heard it here first. My book is about capitalism and I love it, I love writing about something contemporary and urgent. I am mad and sad all the time but I think that is an appropriate emotional state for the times we live in. The important thing is to think critically about your anger and about yourself and the things you care about, if you can. It’s hard. I am a real speak-first-ask-questions-later kind of person, the worst kind of person in the world, so believe me, I know.

I also got asked to join a university feminist reading group with a focus on world-building and envisioning post-capitalist societies, so I am very excited about that. I had never even heard of a single author on the proposed reading list. So fucking cool. My current vision of life after capitalism is extremely hazy, it’s just like either an apocalyptic smoking wasteland or some sort of fantasy of eco-friendly bike communities where everyone wears rough woolen clothing.

Things that make me happy are my apple tree, full of birds and squirrels and weird bugs. My dog who is long and lean and houndy, if you dance and clap your hands he barks and yells. He smells like dirt and popcorn and when he thinks it’s time to go on a walk he runs over to the shoe rack and throws shoes on the floor. I have been listening to a podcast I really like, called Black Men Can’t Jump in Hollywood, which is a group of smart black people talking about movies with black lead actors. Trying to keep up with my New Yorkers but getting sort of annoyed by the whole vibe. Like why does David Denby still get to write a whole huge thing about how the Hays Code was good for women, I thought he retired? And also the restaurant reviews make me so angry I almost want to cancel my subscription and yet I am drawn to them again and again as a moth to a flame. We found a pizza place that delivers to our house! We joined our new friend Sarah’s CSA and she gave us an insane discount and it’s pick-your-own and they are doing WATERMELON and I am stoked. I am growing mint and using the mint in moscow mules which is………..pretty fucking cool. And I am experimenting with home fermentation; I successfully made amazing sauerkraut and weird farty asparagus. I also enjoy doing the difficult crossword they put in the local paper every Saturday. Last time the theme was real phrases that meant something else if you said them in an old-school Brooklyn accent, it was so fucking complicated, it took me forever to figure it out. Like the clue would be “Weird hospital staff in Brooklyn?” and the answer would be “STRANGE NOISES.”

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