Thursday, January 26, 2006

U.S. Attorney General on Yahoo! News Photos

How did I know that Emi was (literally) behind this? Third hoodie from the left, behind "would." Right on!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

renewed desire

to buy land in the Northeast Kingdom and plant rhubarb and swim during the summer and snowshoe and write during the winter and avoid people all year round. Why do I stay attached to institutions of higher learning? Which is to say, alienation continues. Beers, bars, sparkling water, the professoriat, lectures, mahogany veneer, neat shoes, clothes you're afraid to dirty, facile people slipping into facile conversations, invisible servers, carefully enunciated career ambitions, presumptively interesting people poured into boring bottles and then decanted into sweaters and cocktail glasses. I thought I left this behind? Barf. I'm not good at unction. I'm pretty good at surly, cause I practice at it. I wish I were thirty, in Kanyakumari, on acid, or among nothing but a half dozen border collie mutts and my bean and a stack of unread Iowa Reviews and a nice acoustic guitar with a low action and soft strings.

I'm just being bitchy because the beer I had tonight gave me a massive headache, which Lo was kind enough to alleviate with a little lavender. I am also being bitchy because New Zealand's absence of negligence-based tort liability has caused me to realize that I've chosen the wrong profession. I got my Civ Pro grade back - it's my blood type. It's better than the others, but still not good enough. I need more stories. I think I will take to reading screenplays in class.

Meanwhile - SCALITO?!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

"Go back to China!"

A taxi driver driving, illegally, through the pedestrian crosswalk and up the curb yells this at me because I am trying to cross the street. (Green light: mine.) By his occupation and his accent I divine that he is even more of an immigrant than I am. I find this curious. By the time I think to spit into his open window he has driven away and I'm glad I didn't have the chance to anyway. Spin straw into gold, I tell myself, squeeze lemonade from lemons. So I use the opportunity exercise mind control in the form of vipassana meditation, and wait on the 110th St./Cathedral Parkway C train platform with my eyes closed focusing on my breath. I'm all plumb with corrupting thoughts, because even lovingkindness thoughts are corrupting, so on the train I focus on the sounds I'm hearing (creaking, rumbling, conversational din, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah coming through Laura's headphones) and finally, on the in-out-in-out semiregularity of my body's breathing. Instead of reaching enlightenment, I fall asleep. But it's worked, because by the time I'm at West 4th and wiping the sleep-drool from my jacket, I've forgotten all about my anger and have replaced it with a sleepy stupor. Thank you, Buddha, for teaching me peace.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

oh you've got green eyes oh you've got blue eyes oh you've got gray eyes

Friends of 4 a.m. Society called once again to order. I couldn't sleep and instead spent a couple cereal-munching hours finishing Giovanni's Room in preparation for viewing a Thursday night performance of an adaptation of it at CUNY Grad Center. [Come one, come all: January 19 at 7:30 at 365 Fifth Ave. between 34th and 35th. RSVP for performances at] I can't help but map everything I read onto myself. King Lear and I imagine the prospective tragedy of my own old age; The WPA Guide to New York City is a lunar baedecker I wish I had been around to have been written into; Giovanni's Room and I'm wondering if I've ruined everyone's lives with my fear, internalized homophobia, indecision, risk-aversion. I think the solution to this is only to read light novels and/or FDA nutrition labels? That way I either feel levitated by levity or informed by recommended dosage predictions; win-win.

Blah blah. Sorry, AO, this blog peaked with the mouse in the house problem and has quickly redescended back into the world of the boring and dead.

[By the way, Julius continues to breed and colonize the entire house. We plugged the mouseholes in the living room radiators--the next night, he has made another hole [filled, AGAIN! with kibbles] under the bikes. We lay finger-breaking traps next to that hole and, clever bitch, he tunnels into the radiator THREE FEET FROM MY HEAD. I saw him walking across my bedroom floor yesterday--not walking, but waltzing, taking a leisurely turn on the catwalk, doing everything to indicate that he was pleased with the breadth of his dominion and his comfort in traipsing through it besides walking on hindlegs with his forelegs folded, a la Ferris Bueller, behind his little, crushable gray head. I've had fantasies wherein my name is Pu Yi, I am the last emperor of China, I am petulant and young, and my empire has been lost, and in frustration I hurl my adored pet mouse against the shuttered Tiananmen gates, where he dies in a burst of blood and hair. These are pleasant fantasies, good dreams, like dreams of coconut cocktails and flight.

But the mouse worry was supplanted, for five hygenic hours this Saturday, by a sudden fear of bedbug infestation. So we scoured the house, did our laundry, and borrowed (but didn't use) virulent pesticides that, according to a warning label partially obscured by price tags, "May or may not carve flesh off your face in gory curtains" and "Should be exercised with level of caution to be exercised around live electric wires, black mambas, etc." This makes four feared apartment infestations in the last two years--five if you count two roundworms in my colon as an apartment infestation--mice, lice, scabies, bedbugs, plus a coupla roaches just for good measure. In the last two years I have been cleaner than I've ever been--no more proud "Haven't showed in three weeks! I can exfoliate by putting on a sweater!" declarations for me--but this makes me wonder if this is backwards land and all that cleanliness is actually doing me wrong.]

How did I get on the subject of vermin? Oh right, channeling bad feelings into levity. Also these days I'm keeping a square inch of pomegranate/grapefruit scented soap that I stole from the New York New York hotel and casino in a plastic Ziploc in my backpack so I can take it out and sniff at it and remind myself of what it feels like to dive headfirst into an unpopulated swimming pool on a summer night. I'm still making the mistake of writing "2005" on things that should be labelled "2006." I wonder if law is right for me. I am helping a woman get on Social Security disability and every time I look over her case I want to punch someone in the face because she is 57 and unable to lift five pounds because her lifetime of sweatshop labor has disabled her. The Heavy Pets have found a drummer/bassist/guitarist; we're rocking out the BMCC studio weekly now. Things to love, things to pass time with: I wish I had the Brian to write about better things.

Thursday, January 12, 2006


Just like I wish "gaiety" connoted only twinkle-toed happiness, I wish "grades" were only gentle upslopes capped with promises of sweeping, sun-flooded vistas, sharp intakes of breath, and escapes from treeline. But I replenish my overfilled cup of dismay with the daily recognition that "gaiety" actually associates me with Mary [and Lynne] Cheney and Roy Cohn, and real "grades" provoke my semesterly aversion to NYU Home, the system that tells me whether my latest season of truancy and dereliction, at $19,575 per, will be validated by a grade that rhymes with "Hooray, Gus!" or will be castigated by a loopy mark of shame that rhymes with, "I have brought shame upon my family, Linus."

I have no pleasure - save for the pleasures of perspicacity, foresight, karma, masochism - in reporting now that my precise handwritten transcription of my Criminal Law outline into the eleven blank pages at the end of my textbook was a labor of love/loath that ultimately produced nothing more than symptoms of early-onset basal joint arthritis and the lowest grade of my life. Only the sad little letter I got in Andy Moravsic's international human rights seminar compares to this one, but that one I deserved (living wage sit-in, suicidal urges, late adolescent hormone surges, dirges) and this one I am ready to protest as the arbitrary decision of a tyrant. Yeah, I'm that hubristic: I think I deserved better.

I know there's nothing to be done now but seethe and wait with dread for the next two grades to come out. I'm so bad at handling rejection, though you'd think that at this point, with this many to have handled, I'd have developed better coping mechanisms than merely laying supine and accepting all the apocalyptic scenarios that Brian plays out on an instructive filmstrip of life possibilities. Or balling my fists and hitting inanimate, durable things. Or elevating the night-time tooth-grinding to all-time highs ("It didn't sound like grinding, but like two barges colliding," said L recently), or just working on that permanent crease of worry between my eyebrows.

Now I'm being a baby. According to the principles passed down to me by an ancient and extinct breed of cliff-dwelling sages, I should balance bad news with good. So here's my good news: I got a spontaneous bloody nose in Torts yesterday, and I didn't even bleed on my neighbor as I rushed for the exit!


Monday, January 09, 2006

still not sleeping

Fuck yeah!

State of the State

I’m feeling like the sixth minute of “Hey Jude,” this refrain is getting so damn familiar: I got the will to drive myself sleepless, I got the will to drive myself sleepless, I got...hey, isn’t that a Soul Coughing song that a disaffected housewife whose lip ring I wanted to spend a June 1999 Saturday at Stanford mouthing put on a mix tape for me between Tim Buckley’s “I Just Came to Chase the Blues Away” and the Rolling Stones’ “Love in Vain”? Damn RIGHT my memory is just as good as my command of prepositional phrases!

So instead of lying in bed thinking about - why would I lie about these things? - the ways keys fit into locks (tumblers flush with the notch and groove), I decided to get up, read the same damn chapter about the cult of domesticity that I always seem to read in my teacher’s edition of in A People’s History of the United States, and gorge myself to unconsciousness. Sad to say, all that’s resulted from the eating-Yogi-cereal-till-the-soymilk-runs-out plan is new late-night project to find a footlong hat pin with which to spear and deflate my distended belly. I have been sitting on the futon for about half an hour now, squinting at various objects around the living room in an effort to squander my still-undiscovered talents of telekinesis on utterly trivial tasks, like washing the dishes with well-timed movements of the irises or tapping out “Cecilia” on my new $9.99 tambourine with a coupla kathakali eye etudes. It’s not working, but I chalk this up to my fading ear infection, which clouds all sound in my left periphery such that by comparison my right ear hears everything as flanging tweeters, not the failure of my extrasensory perception.

I would like to spend some more time describing the way the keys and locks looked in my mind just before I climbed out of bed to wander around 2092 8th Ave. but I think it falls into one of those ineffable categories of experience - like sweat-twisted jersey sheets and getting kicked in the balls - that are so wonderful as to be impervious to explanation.

I’m going back to school tomorrow, a.k.a., in five hours, and I have managed to spend my break doing lotsa nothing. I guess it’s to be expected, but I was hoping to read a little more than the mediocre Italian whimsy-porn novel I finished in that crowded ski lodge at Northstar Tahoe. Oh well. I've spent the last few days:

  1. Playing the one crappy drumbeat I know how to play on the drumkit at Borough of Manhattan Community College, and then
  2. Composing, singing, and recording with Laura a mildly inappropriate two-chord song that simply repeats “Boo is our groom and we are his brides”;
  3. Revisiting my favorite paintings at the Guggenheim’s Russia! exhibit before they’re torn from the walls and burned in a big springtime fertility rite/shipped back to the Hermitage whenceforth they came, which you would be a FOOL to miss (there are three days remaining, I know you can take the time to make the time, especially if you’re a former museum worker yourself and you have a free pass to the f*king $18 museum and you only live twenty blocks away from it and you can spare one hour of your day to look at “The Ninth Wave,” “Letter from the Front,” and “Barge Haulers on the Volga” and other paintings that will make you realize with some measure of stupefaction that oil painting can survive as an artistic medium);
  4. Plotting a spring break Tennessee bike trip (Dollywood AND Graceland!!!!) on a maxipad in a horrible Upper East Side bar filled with 38 year-old fake blonde bachelorettes;
  5. Getting hypothermic on wind-chilled midnight Central Park bike rides, losing all feeling in fingers, wondering if I could remember enough of Wilderness First Aid training to save those fingers I cherish most (thumb, fore), trying not to open my mouth so that my cavity fillings wouldn’t freeze and hurt my sad metallic molars;
  6. Caramelizing onions;
  7. Gossiping about the worker bees who make queer politics run;
  8. Drinking melted Queso de Papa cheddar cubes out of cavity-carvingly sweet Puerto Rican hot cocoa;
  9. Amping up the war against the Juliuses with new weaponry: Brillo pads stuffed into apartment orifices, sticky traps with ultrasticky glue, spring-loaded poison darts, buckshot and a sawed-off shotgun. We (read: Laura) finally cleaned under the bathroom sink, where Julii had been feeding upon Boo’s food, and found a constellation of mouse poo. Constellation is not the right word - a galaxy? (Galaxias->lactaceous->lactose->Milky Way! La(c)tin turnz me on.) No...a fucking SHITLOAD of desiccated mouse shit blanketing the floor of the bathroom sink. And in the guest bedroom closet - Gravy Train kibbles! Julius has been dragging Boo’s food into the bedroom closet, that clever bitch! And then shitting and pissing all over our sleeping bags, tents, and ground tarps. But I’m happy to report small triumph: we found one mouse so long dead that its eyes were either gone or sunk somewhere into its skull in an ancient, overlooked glue trap by the record player. I covered him with a plastic bag then felt his hard little head through my plastic prophylaxis, then again felt like a Norman Bates for wanting to keep the corpse in my basement and call it Mother.
  10. Reading Dred Scott v. Sandford and learning all about Taney’s theory of foundational political empowerment: if you don’t have it from the start, you ain’t never getting it!
  11. Blibbity blibbity blah. I make too many lists. I’m gonna list myself into bed now.

Sorry for the public/private spew, folks. But you know, I've found that nothing puts me to sleep faster than bloggi......zzzzz......huh? Wha? Where am I?

Leaving for school in 3.5 hours kill me gaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Sunday, January 08, 2006


My newest favorite word, fecalith: rock of stool.

Appendicitis information

Friday, January 06, 2006

These are heavy times, my friend.

When nocturnality persists, even though motherfucker, I got in bed at 11pm tonight! I can't sleep more than two hours without being shaken awake, violently awake, by apparently random thoughts like a humid Denver winter, sticky nipples, and a long, counterintuitive swandive off (up!) a metaphorical building into the atmosphere. Why?

Boo is twitching in his sleep and kicking the dresser with his Lee Press-On Nails. Clatch, clatch. Sounds like a human ballet. I only write "human ballet" because I once heard a preeeeetentious NPR documentary about the traffic in New Delhi that called the movement of people in traffic a "human ballet." But that only makes you wonder, "Aren't all ballets *human* ballets?" Right?

Just chewing some tobacky and playing my guitacky. Larning about South Korea. Boring myself to tears.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

modest goals for modest gals in modest gaols

Resolutions, 2006:

1) Be a better person.

2) Complain slightly less.

3) Figure out career ambitions, i.e., how not to let dad's pecuniary lamentations break my heart and convince me to go all corporate law to finance his entrepreneurial ambitions.

4) Write award-winning vanguard prose, but if that's not possible, then finish screenplay for The Rock ("Farewell, Jungle Rot") and fill my East Egg swimming pool with lucre lucre lucre.

5) Run a mile in under six minutes; run another marathon.

6) Maintain that weird feeling of being at ease, what my meditation instructor called, alternately, "lovingkindness" and "namo tasso bhagavato arahato sammasambuddhasa etc." Maintain this especially when the urge to slam open hands down on car hoods becomes overwhelming, especially when the desire to scream at cops in riot gear becomes irresistible, especially when you New Yorkers do the terrible voodoo that you doo so well. That is to say, fight less.

7) Cf. #6, fight less, but engage more.

8) Get the candy pop sound of the Heavy Pets off the ground.

9) Apply myself.

10) Play less Scrabble; read more novels.

To be continued...

Insomnia, Day 2

Can't sleep tonight again but I'm more sanguine about it now than I was last night. The familiar pattern is settling in - sleepless, sleepless, sleepless - except as I get older the more I realize that freaking out does nothing, and furthermore given my remaining week of winter break I have nothing to freak out about, and the best course of action is to idly think about getting a summer job or strum minor and diminished chords on my guitar. So it's altogether a pleasant though sleepless night.

My summer job question: the Gay? Or not the Gay?

Also, I need to get out of the habit of saying that. I responded, quite earnestly, to my lawyering professor's "What would you like to do next summer?" by saying, "The Gay," which lead to some embarassing "Excuse me?"s and some belabored explanations of my career interests. I think "promo homo" might be less ambiguous?

Brian is not feeling wet/porous/slack anymore. Tonight Brian is feeling leaden, polluted, and slow, like a Chevy Corvair. Brian is a brokedown jalopy. Luckily I have C.A.E.D.E.N. to take his place - the campaigner's latest, "Confirming Academic Excellence, Denying Excessive Nattering." Caeden, Brian. Brian, Caeden. I hope y'all fall in love.

Monday, January 02, 2006

If you can't fix it you got a stand it

"Listen. I'm thinkin, tell you what, if you and me had a little ranch together, little cow and calf operation, your horses, it'd be some sweet life. Like I said, I'm gettin out a rodeo. I ain't no broke-dick rider but I don't got the bucks a ride out this slump I'm in and I don't got the bones a keep gettin wrecked. I got it figured, got this plan, Ennis, how we can do it, you and me. Lureen's old man, you bet he'd give me a bunch if I'd get lost. Already more or less said it -- "

"Whoa, whoa, whoa. It ain't goin a be that way. We can't. I'm stuck with what I got, caught in my own loop. Can't get out of it.

Rifling through piles of books trying to find Laura's copy of Close Range, but it's nowhere to be seen. I found "Brokeback Mountain" online instead and just spent the last half hour reading it. Lo photocopied and mailed this story to me after we'd been together less than a year - postmarked near Yankee Stadium, trucked up via USPS to Cambridge 02138 - to woo me and make me cry alone in my university-issued bed with borrowed sheets and a flat, twisted sleeping bag for a comforter, to close the distance between Walton and Sacramento Streets and to remind me that 205.39 miles was too far to be away from someone who exhausted their love on you.

And this is the lesson to be learned from my sleepless hunt for old short stories: I promised you something on a sandy beach by a quiet bend in the Huntington River, because you are my point of reference, my north star, my sustenance, my home; you know this; you know this is why even the vaguest thought about John Wayne will lead me to even vaguer thoughts about cowboy masculinity and desultory searches for Annie Proulx stories that only remind me of you, my alpha and my omega. No prolonged end-of-the-year absences will change or deny this.

I don't write about you on my blog because most of the time it feels redundant - as if I need to tell you about what we live. But call it seasonal affectation disorder (triggering another alpha-omega chain of thought about El Scorcho rewritten as a paean to the copyeditor who introduced us to full-spectrum winter sun lamps) or circumstantial duress (cf. Boston, the boring pud, and New York, the lonely pud, and the Waynesboro, VA/Greyhound bus honeymoon that ended the thesis kampf and let us escape both boring/lonely puds at once) and the last few months give me reason for contrite redeclarations of love. My new year's resolution is to be a better person and here I am sleepless on the very first night of 2006 trying to re-break bones that have set and healed in the wrong position. I have nothing else to say except I love you and I'm sorry, to everyone, everywhere.

Sunday, January 01, 2006


Can't sleep again - this happens every year when I get home from Christmas in California - for the seventh consecutive year - head feeling porous, wet, and slack - watermelon of the mind - etcetera etcetera -

I'm debating whether the appropriate thing to do now would be to gratify AO by writing some self-deprecating stories from my trip to Reno/Vegas - though there are none, only sweet stories about buying wheat beer for my dad and holding my mom's hand during the car ride home - or write some of what's on my mind - but as I've previously mentioned, discretion and a butcher block stuck full of serrated knives make public privacy always impracticable.

So instead I find myself trawling past journals, at least the electronic diaries I've kept in Microsoft Word format since getting my first laptop in August 2000, for the most abject bits, key gems including "4/1/01. a possible bio: mandy suffers from an acute sense of geographic dislocation and spends a considerable amount of her time finding anagrams for the word 'diffidence'" and "4/16/01. still emptyhanded in half-hearted search for beauty." I'm not sure why I thought I would find My Documents/Words/Aug-2000-Sept-2001.doc useful, but it has given me nothing but a deprivation migraine and a sense that my writing hasn't evolved from the mediocrity it always has been/will be. Faahhhk.

Okay, so late night is turning me even more ungrateful and uglier than I'd otherwise appear. Thinking of nice things to say - my mother telling me she accidentally kicked brioches that had fallen to the floor of the Monte Carlo buffet galley ("I don't know where they came from")? Dad telling me, on separate occasions, "Black people really have their own special talents" (this because we watched the Prince tribute band "Purple Reign" in a casino bar, but my Chinese was insufficient to tell him that the person personifying Prince was actually white, not black) and "All the Jewish people I've met have been very smart" (this because he met one of my friends (who happens to have descended from the people who killed Jesus) and was pleased as punch to note that she was prudent enough to wear the same arch-supporting soft-soled sneakers - black Saucony Jazzes - as him)? Choking on the piped-in smoke that obscured my front-row view of the jogging topless dancers during the can-can number at the Tropicana Hotel's R-rated "Les Folies Bergere" Topless Revue, which I attended with my family? My dad's awesome metaphor during the four-hour debate: "If I present you with an apple, an orange, a banana, and a potato, and you say, 'The banana's rotten!', that's not fair!"?

Spirits lifting. Urge to kill falling...fallling...falling...RISING!...falling...falling - gone. Let us all bask in insomnia's warm glowing warming glow.


Despite direst predictions, my plane didn't crash, though I slept through both the takeoff and the landing. So I'm back in NYC, though I think I left my heart in San Francisco; spent the day looking in store windows downtown looking for consumer goods to fill the heart-shaped hole where it used to be. Bleah.