Archive for April, 2005

silliness reigns

Silliness overflowed today from life to my book and back again. I finished the last Dorkosigan book just now (last in the series, but I have more of them unread to go back to) giggling helplessly. It was like licking cake batter out of the bowl. Jeez! Over the top! And the book cover made it all that much divinely sillier – A classic romance novel dance scene, with silvery printed alienesque moon, fireworks, and futuristic skyscrapers; the characters were all wrong! can’t they even get the hair colors and relative height correct? The smirking dancers! Whose evil brain cooked that up? I can’t stop giggling.

Moomin’s toenails are black. “Because that would be cool and punk rock.” His fingernails are red. “Like claws with alien blood!” Rook’s toenails are glittery purple. Mine are silver-pink and my fingernails are a somewhat botched french-thingie….I feel quite maidenly.

I took some photos of Moomin in full gear this evening. The well-dressed of the Hemulen household are wearing a hoodie vest, Startrek communicator in one pocket, flashlight in the other. Binoculars. Arrow-quiver made of a water bottle and rope – jauntily over the shoulder. A coat hanger bow. Tinkertoy arrows. And “a deadly stabbing dagger for when I run out of arrows.” He’d whip out the communicator… “Quick! Bring me up to the spaceship right away!” At some point I became overwhelmed with the cuteness, but couldn’t find a tape for the video camera… dammit… usually I hate the thing. In this case it could have come in handy.

rook and I are off to watch kung fu hustttle at the late nite show, with the Acrobat watching vaguely over Moomin. The silliness has not ended! I will bring my inhaler.

Dorkso saga continues!

This morning I finished “Komarrr” before I started working. It was very “p4ladin of souls” style… well… you know how there is a genre of “portrait of the artist” or coming of age books… there is definitely a consciousness-raising-of-age genre bubbling up. Books like Paladin or Komarrr take the fictional world that has been established as very male-consciousness narrated and then… the female characters’ points of view start to bleed into the free indirect discourse part of things until the narrator-voice … Oh, if only I could muster up some coherence. It’s done fairly subtly!

Chula has started calling me “Admiral” and asking me how big my laser cannon is.

Rook just sent me this link, so timely considering I just read that M3rcedes Licky novel…

I am a young maiden, I live in the sticks,
My parents are absent or murdered or hicks.

Unloved and unwanted, a victim from birth,
I spend my days dreaming of proving my worth.

For though I’m enslaved in work brain-dead and boring,
I’ve got special talents they all keep ignoring.
But when I pursue them my free time’s co-opted,
It’s perfectly clear that I must be adopted.

GENIUS! I’m chortling in my joy! “But that’s in the past now, I’m back in my bodice, /
With help from some horses or maybe the Goddess. ” It applies perfectly to many, many other books…

Okay. I’m slacking off from school tonight. Later I’ll have finished “Brothers in Arrrms” which is not one of the more brilliant ones but lays the groundwork for some future evil mind-bending.

I had cramps all day and am moody as hell. I feel elated one minute and then want to burst into tears the next. fucking hell. a good day to disappear into books.

Last night after all the amazing walking, Chula and I drove to the C4stro for her to do her reading, because we were running late… and it was really fun… I liked the singing parts and also the voice she did for B3rry, the main character…. I didn’t buy anytihing in the bookstore because i knew I wanted to do some SF bookbuying … and today I ran into Bord3rlands for a lightning raid… it was so alluring. I wished I could stay for hours and paw everything with my grubby little paws ans sit on the floor to read.
I was thinking i should make more effort to support them and buy stuff there!

Rook just said to me, “I’m putting that in my…” and I said, “Oh. Oh, right.” and a few minutes later he said, “So I was thinking you might… make a……” and he trailed off and I said, “Yes. Yes, I was thinking I’d do that.” Rook: *snort of laughter* Me: We’ve been married a long time, huh? Rook: 27. Me: Ha! 52. Rook: Aha! Rather like that conversation in the nationallampoon “Doon” book parodying the mystery-laden eyebrow quirking non-conversations of the Dune characters.

walking geography

As I walked to move my truck this morning — chula still asleep — I was thinking of Metagrrl’s description of her project to walk all the streets of San Francisco. She has a map pinned up and keeps track of where she’s been. Immediately I began imagining what this would be like and how I would feel about it and what I’d do with it. (In between imagining combat skiing, and the figure-skating derby with chicks in spangled leotards toe-or heel-stabbing people in the chest kung-fu style with fierce grace… how did THAT get started? But wouldn’t it make a great video game or assassination scene in a movie?) Um. Back to the idea of walking every street in a city. Best done with obsessive documentation on the spot? Or building a giant database of each street segment, with impressions and space for its inhabitants and habitual noticers to add information? Correlated with a map? This Grand Thing sprang into being in my imagination… A bit later we were walking outside to leave and I asked what she would document if she did, or what… something. And she said that the most interesting thing to write about was not the doing of it but the ways people reacted. I wasn’t sure if she meant the people on the streets she walked or the people she told about the project. But then (being very self-centered) it occured to me that I had had a strong reaction to her mentioning the project. First, it made me instantly like her in a nerd-way, with nerd-respect. It was impressive. But why? And what does it mean? I wonder if everyone instantly recognizes the doing of this Thing to have value, and what is that value? Why is it so recognizable? Maybe it has to do with authenticity. It values a certain experential authenticity. The idea of thoroughness and accomplishment, the way it is a do-able task. That the city (big as it is) is knowable on some level by one person. We like knowing that it’s possible. It makes the city seem human. (Do cities automatically not seem human? What am I saying?) Walking a street once you don’t have the same depth of experience as a person who lives there or walks it every day for a year… but you end up knowing the city on some interesting level… Many times I’ve taken almost all the buses in a city on first moving there, since I move, I’m jobless, it’s valuable to me to get to know the city, and without a car… Then I’d end up getting temp jobs and hey presto, my experential map was useful.

A moment of sad disconnect as MG got bitter about “the moms power-walking with those triangular strollers…” as if we shared automatic hostility. Well. It’s not like I have a triangular stroller but if you go fast in the city, they are v. cool and don’t jolt your kids and you can go up and down curbs with minimum hassle. Oh, the all too common mother-hating of the SF hipster, why, why, why? We’re an easy target. What, we only respect single moms living in poverty? middle classitude makes one evil? What? It’s not like I haven’t made sarcastic remarks about yuppie moms coiffed and suited and annoying and suv-driving… but… I guess it always makes me feel like an imposter and a little defensive. And the desperation (when you ahve a tiny infant) to get OUT and do anything! But the limited array of things possible to do with the baby! The sick desperation for time to pass and the baby to be entertained or sleep at the same time… When I pass a mom with a jogging stroller we have a moment of eyes meeting in mutual recognition (if I have a kid with me) or one-way recognition and attempt to convey a certain… respect for their struggle?

But back to exploration. In Irv1ne and RWC there wasn’t much public transport and I had my truck anyway. So I drove around quite randomly with the same project.

I wonder what other people’s reactions are to the idea of being systematic about walking around a place?


Whew. I wrote my whole lecture for the class next week. Much easier than writing a giant paper. Now to polish up the translations!

What I haven’t done is a real survey of poetry from 1950-present… that was my ambition… I have 2 anthologies I have dipped into but I’d like to… by the end of class I’d like to produce a summary of the currents in lat. amer. poetry.

One of my pet peeves is when people think that because N3ruda is the only poet marketed in the U.S. that that makes him the most important, or greatest, or best, or most influential poet in L4tinamerica. I don’t really have much to offer in response to this in normal social conversation. It’s hard to know where to begin. I’m no expert on his poetry but there is plenty of other exciting work. I’d like to write more about anthologies; their pitfalls; T4pscott’s anthology and why it makes me uneasy… S4lro and M0lloy’s anthology of women’s writing was much better. the anthology should have a core to it, but it should break its own rules. A little challenge to the boundaries of genre seems necessary. the anthology reader shouldn’t feel too complacent afterwards. No, t his hasn’t actually taught you everything… no, it’s not neatly sum-up-able…


I don’t even have to think anymore about whether I can go up the stairs or whether I should take the elevator instead and what price I will pay for deciding wrong and hurting later. At school I routinely go up 5 flights of stairs and not only don’t hurt afterwards but also can spring up the steps without slowing and without even breathing hard. It’s so amazing… I guess sometimes my knee twinges or I get bronchitis… I know just in january I could barely walk to the cafe from bad asthma, but I bounced back so fast! Fuck but it’s great!

Chula and I walked today from her house up to the very top of the tall hills in pacific heights and down again and up again to the ch4meleon cafe. I should look up how far that is. but the hills! yikes! It didnt’ hurt going downhill either!!!! I know just a couple of years ago it would have been unthinkable. today we walked there and halfway back and then got a bus. I just felt a healthy sort of glow. my legs were sometimes trembly and exhausted but slowing down for a bit would fix it. I can’t really believe it. It’s impossible to get across how impossible it is…

with Richard a couple of weeks ago at pillar point I looked at the distance to walk and it seemed so easy and trivial. But I remember it being the limits of possibility and a little scary.

Sorry to get all sappy for a minute there ! It really overwhelms me… At school with the stairs, man, every time I’m just blown away by that feeling…

i am not even going to believe it about aging. usually i contemplate the healthiness and figure it is super temporary and then bang, things will start going out again.. but maybe if they do I will bounce back again. Thinking suddenly of my grandma who broke her ankle in 12 places at age 70 and 2 years later was walking a few miles along the seawall…


The thing that consoles me about the Bad Class is that next week I’ll have half the class for my own project presentation. I figure that is an hour and 15 minutes, so I will talk for 30-40 minutes and then they can discuss/workshop/whatever my thing all they want in the remaining time. Oh the power. I will have a lovely handout, and copies of the poems and translations for all. I will stand up and give a Lecture in proper teacherly style. Unlike the prof who just sits there and rambles a little, vaguely, and then goes, “well, I dunno, or something, whatever, what do you think? ” in a half-hearted way. And unlike the other students who are even more half-hearted. “I did this project and I guess it speaks for itself. I don’t really have anything else to say about it.” — then some extremely bullshitty discussion.

The prof also said the last time he taught the class he assigned more theory of tr4nslation. And then people would try to write something using the theory of the week. And it didn’t work too well. Well duh. Writing a little theory of the week project is obviously a dumb idea. but reading the theory is NOT a dumb idea. Nor would be some kind of assignment to LEARN some INFORMATION about the poet and their country and the literary traditions they are associated with. I’m still in fucking shock that this is not blindingly obvious to everyone.

ta ra po sha na na BULLSHIT!

That was one of the worst aesthetic experiences ever! The Bad Class today featured a dude who seems intelligent enough but whose project was an experiment in p0lyphhony. So it was called “R3connstitution” and was for 6 voices, which had specific genders and roles like the ‘ur-mother’ and ‘white colonizer’ and ‘native’. There was mass rebellion at the genderedness and the dude was very upset and frustrated that people wouldn’t do it like he wanted it. the parts were broken up into syllables which were mostly nonsense but then sort of turned into bits of the preamble to the U.S. C0nstittution. So picture someone beating time on the table and 6 people going “meh meh meh na po na na na …. ni ni ni sha na na” or whatever. OMG so awful! The dude kept making them start over because they’d get out of sync.

I refused to participate, but at one point the prof was getting very silly with a long sequence of “neh”s and I said something obnoxious about neighing and pony play. He almost choked laughing but it made him neigh harder and sillier, which cheered me. I’m going to call him Professor Ponyboy. My friend in there, Nene, was also being obnoxious as was the dude next to me who during the moments of confusion kept saying in a high squeaky girl voice, “I have a penis!”

how this was anything to do with translation I have no fucking idea…

My favorite part during the dude’s explanation before the ‘performance’…. (which i should add he originally wanted to write in alg0nquin) when he said something like, “And then in the middle of the project I realized that r3constittution is what you do with orange juice. And so orange juice is totally false, just like the constitution! ” There was a lot more about hegel, dichotomous polysemy, the paradise of the ur-mother and the native in the eden-like world before the white colonizers come, but I was actually giggling horribly during most of it. seriously people. This class I lost it. I couldn’t control myself.


The Dorksogian books continue to grow on me! I’ve skipped around in the series and yes – Miles is a horribly unreliable narrator and it’s actually getting very disturbing in a good way. (Rather than just run of the mill disturbing, as it was when Miles’s nanny suddenly snapped and tortured some pilot and then you find out his Dark Secret… and yet it seemed run of the mill…)

Now reading just the beginning of “Memory”, suddenly the scales fall from my eyes and the series is a harsh critique of masculinity, war, torture… it’s very John L3Carre… “deep cover”, spies, and lies, oh my!

new talent!

I have developed a new talent. It is interesting how mastery over one’s body can increase with age, or maybe obsession with mastery increases. Yoga as the illusion of control over physical mortality.

So you know how you can shoot water up one nostril and have it come out the other nostril, or down your throat? Thanks to my newly acquired tonsil yoga and long-nozzled squeeze bulb, I can now shoot water up the back of my throat around my soft palate, through my sinuses, and out my nose. It’ll be a great party trick! Try it with whiskey and a turkey baster!

poxy doxy

Peanut might have chicken pox. She just got vaccinated a couple of weeks ago and you can have a mild breakout afterwards… If it is (and it seems likely from looking at her thru the window) then it’s mega contagious and I have probably been exposed since just yesterday was wiping her nose and kissing the top of her head. the virus is airborne and very contagious even before the rash appears…

I never had cp as a kid. But last year I got super paranoid and got vaccinated. I can’t remember if I ever remembered to get the 2nd followup shot. I’m about 99% sure Moomin had the vaccine – how not? But I’m calling to check anyway! Rook never had it as a kid either. He thinks they probably vaccinated him before he went to the South Pole in 2000, since they gave him like 100 shots and made him have every kind of medical exam…