Monday, June 30, 2008

love story as lab report

Another 2002 treasure.

Love Story as Lab Report


To explain the precipitating reaction of B to the introduction of C.


The love of A for B was examined. The love of B for C was examined. The love of C for B was examined. The relationship of A and B and C was examined.


Infatuation was felt by A for B. “A is charming but how could I bring him to my mother” was said by B to C. Snickers were heard. The occupation of A was questioned. An additional chortle was chortled. The ability of A to get it up was questioned. A slap was laid across C’s face in a manner suggesting playfulness. Secret affection was felt for B. Secret affection was felt for C. It was believed that consonants should not feel affection for one another. Affection was hidden.

“How could I bring C home to my mother?” was wondered.

A perceived violation of the gender identity of A was experienced by A. A 9mm Baretta was bought. Ammunition was bought. Bullets were loaded into a gun. A gun was cocked.

The first shot was fired into the pillow. The second shot was fired into the forehead of C. The face of C was disappeared. A scream was emitted. The face of A was clawed by the fingernails of B.


I found some old documents.


Last night I had a dream that I was running around a track in mid-Manhattan with J. Hebert and Deepa. Does Central Park have a track? Well, it wasn’t even Central Park, it was more like Madison Square Park, a shaded cement square block right next to towering buildings. So we started to run a timed mile, and Deepa was going very fast, so I huffed along next to her and mentioned her speed to her. “Yes,” she said, “I noticed yesterday when you were running that you push yourself. I really admire that.”

I took this in stride, literally, though I had not run the day before and couldn’t tell what she was talking about. By the end of the first lap, we were running three abreast, and Deepa told a joke. “So Friend A tells Friend B, ‘We’re going to take the first bus to Beanonia,’ and Friend B doesn’t believe Beanonia exists so he says, ‘Are you just stringing me along?’”

Yes, even in the dream it wasn’t funny.


I have a lot more to say about the weekend but I will only say this for now: San Francisco is wild. Many people, at least the pretty hippie yuppie homo young ones, act like there are no rules. Tits, open containers, hash pipes, pot brownies, nipple rings, flags indicating desire to be fisted, Native American fetishistic fashion - all satisfying the three New York plain view prongs. I'm new to California law but I am guessing there's no plain view exception? Did I say tits? I took some photos, and will redact and share the pertinent bits later.

I was of course not responsible for any of the above. I kept almost all of my skin covered because San Francisco, in addition to being wild, is very cold. And I did not partake in any illegal anything, because here's another thing I've learned about California contracts and "crimes" law: just considering buying illegal drugs is adequate consideration, and the bargained-for loss is a conviction for an attempt to conspire to solicit drugs – merging into the crime of NOT BEING A LAWYER ANYMORE. No thank you! I nibbled quietly upon my avocado sandwich and got high off life instead.

I am somewhat high on life, or at least finally comfortable enough with who I am, what I don't know, what my brain is capable of doing, and what I have chosen to do with my time that I didn't drop my pants and run away screaming when S.L., a person I knew in a former life as the somewhat ditzy twelve year-old (what gender-appropriate twelve-year old is not somewhat ditzy?) boy-crazy setter on the "A" Volleyball team reintroduced herself to me fifteen years later in Dolores Park as the girlfriend of a tall butch "Melissa." I did not lose my composure and instead spread a beguiling smile on the lower half of my face and asked, "How did you end up becoming a gay math teacher?" S.L. is now a perfectly nice and adjusted-seeming person, just like me, and we had a nice conversation and may one day meet up for coffee. We became Facebook friends. And voila, just like that, we're 30*! (* Several of you insist on correcting me when I proclaim that I am 30. Shutthefuckup. "I'm 30!" doesn't literally mean I am 30, assholes! "30" represents the zeitgeist, not the calendar year.)

I kept serendipitously running into people I knew - lovely Jay Way from college in the bagel line at the Dolores Park Cafe, who strengthened my belief that ABC girls are the cunningest and secretest minds of my generation, my favorite high school goth intellectual friend turned high school math teacher L.V., a Hays and Outlaw predecessor in interest from NYU Law, someone from my rugby team, my ex-rival from the Stanford CoHo (she was glassy-eyed and drugged-looking on Saturday, but she never would have remembered me anyway), someone who vaguely looked like a "Marisol" I knew years ago.

I did not stay with Handle or Puck last night because they were busy testing out tents for their next-day trip to Tokyo (this year's G8 site), and anyway, of course, someone's drama, not mine, turned the weekend from a party party into a consolation party so I did not stay in the city overnight. I'd by then had my three Stellas and needed no more, so I was happy to wait for the midnight Caltrain on L.V.'s couch in the Noe Valley and admire L.V.'s interesting collection of Namibian baskets and hold N.K.'s hand and snotty head and iPhone as she cried about her insane bitch** of a 6' tall ex-girlfriend. (**My terms, not hers.) The drama involved the 6' tall ex-girlfriend's 6'4" tall ex-ex-girlfriend, a 230-pound bruiser and former WNBA player and current corporate lawyer who crushed my hand with her handshake and told me to call her simply "Red." I am not making this up. Red and 6' had other former Stanford varsity athletes, many of whom were ex-girlfriends to each other, join them and together they formed a Stonehenge of tall lesboes that I avoided all day, since I dislike tall people. N.K. and I are also ex-girlfriends, and she dated another one of my ex-girlfriends, so within six degrees of separation everyone in the Mission yesterday had broken my heart. Sometimes it sucks to be gay (violence, social and legal death etc.) but it makes the world smaller and parts of it warmer, and that's something to be genuinely proud of.

I held N.K.'s hairspray and occasionally her hand on the train ride down to the warm, calm Peninsula from the wild, cold city and then my dad picked us up at the station like we were sixteen again. I drove her the remaining ten miles to her brand new subdivision in Santa Clara - it looked like the developments outside Shanghai - and drove alone up 101 the fifteen minutes home with Movin' 99.7 turned way up playing "Another Night" and the windows rolled way down blowing air at 55 mph into my face.

My life is in suspension, readers. Bar review has turned me into a tight rope (boring, straight, very high strung) and then Stephanie wrings me out like a dishrag when she tells me she's no longer interested in moving to Chicago. I am having Mimi's problem with the radio. I don't let on because my blog persona is sunny and I still haven't found a way to be sad and sunny at the same time. There are ups and then there are way way downs, but I had a few moments yesterday when I was standing in the grass with all those crazy people that knew me or didn't know me and loved me or didn't love me where I just felt all right. I ate a burrito, and it was delicious. It was a nice feeling.

Sunday, June 29, 2008


Palo Alto is full of old breeders in Daisy Dukes holding hands. Some look like they are long distance runners. Others just look like old leather. Twice in the last two days I have walked around corners and almost run into such couples. They look at me like it's my problem they are old breeders in Daisy Dukes holding hands.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

thank kathy and tell her you love her

Kathy writes:

Yay!!! youtube makes the bar sadness go away!!

I emailed D a great article from the nytimes about walruses and he replied with this:

I'd also like to nominate the walrus for Most Endearing: The Walrus, this video:
Best Special Effects: The Cuttlefish:
Best Costume: The Mimic Octopus:

I sent him this:

And he sent me this:

He sent me these, which are of general interest:

On a related note, on all three of my practice essays for barbri, this was the comment that I got

I: fail
R: fail
A: fail
C: fail

I like to say all 15 "fails" in a row, because that is somehow very satisfying. I mean, if I'm going to go down in flames I might as well put on a good show.

Friday, June 27, 2008


See generally this.


Instead of attending 14 hours of MBE review today and tomorrow, I have decided that (1) I will spend today naked in the backyard eating chicken and lackadaisically reviewing the 77 problems I missed on the simulated MBE yesterday, and then biking slowly downtown to see my therapist, and (2) tomorrow I will go to Dolores Park at noon and drink beers until the Dyke March, and then march in the Dyke March, and then sleep on Handle's floor and wake up for a Sunday morning party that begins at 9 a.m. with glasses of rosé. Why? Because I don't care, and the least I can do is spend the weekend drunk and eating chicken.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

i'm gonna do all i can for my lord

(Note to C. Watching this sequence of YouTube clips might actually make you more, rather than less, hysterical. But it is also derived from something Kathy did once, and Kathy is generally inspiring so I am inspired to try it. She wrote a poem for our little post-college writing group and read it with a MIDI version of the theme song from "Bosom Buddies" looping in the background. The poem ended with Kathy repeating the line "We can dance like spiders" about twenty times, once every four measures. This is a blogpost written to music and video. Multimedia for the multitudes. I'm not sure it works.)

During one of the few times in the last twelve years I have been single or just lonesome I spent a lot of time sleeping on buses with my head knocking on the windowpane and John Fahey playing through my tape player.

I listened to him on the bus that took moved me from Boston to New York on September 9, 2001, and then I listened to him on the subway ride that took me to the World Trade Center on September 10, 2001, where I stood on Floor 110 and looked at the ants carrying their briefcases below and then descended to buy an $.85 plain bagel from the subterranean Au Bon Pain. There was that horrible lonely weekend afterward, when my sublessor fled back to her parents on the Upper West Side, and left to my own devices - no money, no phone, no Internet, no buses, no friends - I could only think to walk around dazedly looking at the missing person posters all over the city with this tinny shit blasting in my ears. In fact, the only time I wasn't listening to John Fahey was the actual morning of September 11, when I walked from Rivington and Pitt to my job in Union Square around 9:20 listening to CBS News on the AM dial, with the two guys who usually did the morning's pep talks saying to each other, "Two planes can't be a coincidence. No way. This wasn't an accident. Someone was behind this." Then the news glut began, and I didn't listen to John Fahey again until the next weekend, when the happiest little girl on the eastern seaboard was borne by flying fairy bus far away from the plasticky smell of pulverized concrete, up Interstate 95 for 205 miles with "Desperate Man Blues" drowning out the motor's sound.

Somebody who loves John Fahey and old movies has combined his loves and put them on YouTube.

Last time I was single, disasters happened wherever I went. There was September 11. Also, on June 1, 2001, I arrived in Kathmandu; that day, nine members of the Nepalese royal family were murdered by the Nepalese crown prince. I know how narcissistic and dramatic this paragraph seems.

John Fahey was the last musician I ever dubbed onto a tape. Do you remember that process? Standing with your finger on the stop button to catch the last song before it gets cut off on the side? I dubbed this tape at dusk and remember that by the time it was through I was standing in the dark in A. Kaufman's room. John Fahey is what I listen to now when I want neutral noise. If I am studying in a room full of people chattering, I put my headphones in and set the volume at 1 and let his jangling steel strings be my background. There was a period in early 2003 when I wasn't sleeping at all - not even fifteen minutes a day - and after three or four days I started feeling crazy and would lay in bed awake from 3 a.m. until 9 a.m. trying to find the right combination of music and sleeping positions that would give me rest. I stuck to John Fahey, Iron and Wine, and Belle and Sebastian, but none of it worked. That spell of insomnia ended when I took a bus to New York - I was living in Cambridge at the time -at the end of the week and slept seven delightful hours on Walton Street in the Bronx with motorcycles gunning all night outside the window. I still woke up earlier than L and to pass the time I wrote a bad lullaby and played Dirty Harry ("Go ahead, punk" said to the mirror, etc.) with Isabell's toy guns until I realized that they were actually dildos. You were supposed to use the barrel of the gun.

Boring. Let us now watch a boy catch catfish, and those captured catfish leaping high against a curtain.

This is not meant to be so treacly and reflective a blogpost. I just have certain archetypes I return to and certain stories I tell again and again. This is actually just supposed to be a bunch of links to music I was listening to seven years ago because I just went on a YouTubing jag. For example, the Rolling Stones. Because the entire royal family had been massacred, the governance of Nepal was in upheaval and tourists were encouraged to route their trekking adventures to New Zealand instead of Nepal. This meant there were no Westerners for the lonely tourist to look at. This meant there were no locals to fawn for the lonely tourist's dollars because they busy were crying, watching people crying on the news, shaving their heads, and preparing obsequies. This also meant there was a noon curfew for a few days, after which one would hear loud cracking sounds in the distance. So I bought a guitar one morning before curfew, and some Rolling Stones tapes, and locked my hotel door and closed the windows and listened to "Love in Vain" over and over again.

What I like best about the above video is that nobody seems to care about this band. The man in the pompadour filling the screen for the first thirty seconds, the youth at the barricades, the woman rising from the grass and wiping her hands on the seat of her pants (there are two actually, if you watch the entire video - Where's Waldo?) - they all don't give a damn.

I bought up all the Rolling Stones tapes at one of the music stores in Thamel and then bought fistfuls of AA batteries (they only held charge for about two hours but they were $.10 for four) and took my tape player with me on my long bus rides around Western Nepal. At the end of my seven weeks there, I was spending on average 10 hours per day on a buses. I would wake up at three, ride a bus for seven hours, get out and ask hotel proprietors whether their prices and hours had changed from the year before, eat dhal bhat, and then get back on a bus that would take me to wherever I was staying that night. At first I hated the bus rides because the hilly roads I traveled on were melted by monsoon rains and another Let's Go researcher had died in a bus crash in Peru and I was frightened, and also American standards for incidental touching are much more conservative than South Asian standards so I felt inhuman for the first few weeks, when old ladies would brace themselves on my knees to stand up and market men would place their sacks of live chickens on my feet and everyone just stared at me, grinning. By the end of my time there I loved those rides. There was one ticket taker around my age, whose cartilage on his left ear was all twisted up and made him look like an elf. His job was to fold up the filthy single rupee notes the passengers gave him and put them into his chest pocket. There was no door on this bus. When the bus was rolling along, the ticket taker held onto the frame where the door would have been and leaned backwards out of the well, out of the bus, and into the curves in the road, like he was windsurfing. And he would catch me looking and then grin, and by this point I had learned to grin back. The soundtrack to this was "Angie," or Tim Buckley, or Hoyt Axton.

Look what I found! "Protection," also another late 90s-era favorite on the playlists of the morose. What a lovely video - or maybe I'm just a sucker for things that appear to be shot in single takes (see, e.g., Janet Jackson's "Rock With U," linked to below, or Russian Ark)?

On a 6 train uptown, Stephanie brought out her CD walkman (even in 2005 this was quaint) and popped in a blank CDR and beckoned me to put on her headphones. "This was my favorite song," she declared. I heard the opening drumbeat of "Protection" and then took the headphones off and said, "This was also my favorite song!" It was more evidence that we were meant to be together forever. Tracy Thorn's voice makes both of us feel contemplative and passionate, and Massive Attack's spare rhythm makes both of us feel like things are about to fall apart. Then she forwarded a couple tracks to the Pussycat Dolls' "Doncha" and explained how this song was the reason she wrote "Doncha Wish Your TA Was An Employee?" on the poster she carried in small circles on the graduate student picket line in front of Bobst. I felt a swell of affection, pride, and lust for the way she effortlessly combined what was cool and what was political.

Why not Russian Ark itself? Oh, the YouTube choices are disappointingly thin, but you get a glimpse of the thrilling mazurka sequence in this one.

And for the hell of it, why not Rear Window, too, which I also learned to love during a single spell. The "Protection" video reminds me of it. The trailer below captures what I like best about it. The horror/suspense is incidental; the point is the movie's affection for the weird, manic, repetitive, lonesome things people do at their rear windows when they think no one is watching, and the weirdness and mania and lonesomeness even of the person who watches. (And then of the person who watches all of them, on a screen! The meta is boggling.) I liked Disturbia but it was a completely different movie, much more about Shia LeBoeuf's twitchy teen persona and creepiness than love.

I've lost track of what I was trying to say. Oh yes, the first song is called "I'm Gonna Do All I Can For My Lord." It is a resolution for dark times. Lettuce prey:

We can dance like spiders
We can dance like spiders
We can dance like spiders
We can dance like spiders
We can dance like spiders
We can dance like spiders
We can dance like spiders
We can dance like spiders

the right to bear arms

Woke up to this disappointing banner headline in the Times: Justices Rule for Individual Gun Rights. It's most disappointing because two hundred years of federal judges have failed to interpret the simple language of the Second Amendment the proper way:

Monday, June 23, 2008


I think Kathy Lee may be the funniest person I know. I haven't heard from her in a few weeks, and this morning she sends me a short email just so I know about these two links:

Then this:

I love you, Kathy! Thanks for making my day!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

what brings you here

I recently installed a sitecounter on this blog, which doesn't tell me a whole lot - so you may all continue your furtive delight at the workings of my innermost tubes without worrying that I can see who you are - except what URLs refer people to here. And what I have learned is that more people are drawn to this blog by the search query "Jessica Simpson legs" than anything else. If you Google "Jessica Simpson legs," one of my blogposts is currently ranked #9 out of 690,000 results, and I bet this entry here will bump up that number a few notches.

Welcome, strangers! To your disappointment, I am a lezzard and a lawyer and more of a tits than an ass man*, anyway, so you will find no high resolution images of Jessica Simpson's undoubtedly shapely, firm, round mounds. Instead you will get the Smellera's description of her legs: cracked Ricola lozenges. (I don't control the Smellera - whatever it says goes!) Others arrive at this site after such embarrassing queries as "anal douche," "law school 4 or four-color pens analysis," "rube cube," "sticky rice," "glutinous rice tamales," or the more specific version of the original query, "jessica simpson 2008 legs spread." I can provide answers to none of your questions, which have proven so edifying, because I now know that what the people want are more practical posts. Less navel-gazing, more leg-gazing!

I will start by answering one of the search queries. When I started law school, I read some book that said to buy four-color pens or four different color highlighters and to underline the issue in green, the facts in black, the reasoning in blue, and the holding in red. Some other book said to draw little pictures about the case in the margins so that my memory could be jogged both by colorful lines and by caricatures. I very conscientiously followed the advice of these law advice books and bulletin boards, even though I hid in the library from the acquaintances I started to make because I was embarrassed to be identified as a striver. Nearly every word in my textbooks were sublimned by a colorful rug. I drew four lines on the inside covers of my textbooks just so I would have a legend to refer to if I forgot what the color green was supposed to go under. If I had not thrown away my Crim Law textbook in a fit of glee at the end of my Fall 2005 exams, what you would have seen inside it would resemble line graphs (because I have never been able to draw straight horizontal lines) by little drawings of ships exploding, the Cocoanut Grove on fire with 492 stick figures laying down with Xs where their eyes should be, and women who were forced by their husbands to eat from dog food bowls.

Did I draw a picture for Pennoyer v. Neff? I don't remember. I just tried drawing a memory-jogging picture about Pennoyer. I don't remember the facts of the case except that it involved property and some missing person and jurisdiction in personam or in rem.

(If you Google Image "jurisdiction in rem," you get this.) Sorry, Helen Hershkoff. You were a fine teacher but I was a poor student.

The answer to your query, dearest Googler, is stupid. The four-color pen technique is stupid. Drawing pictures of every case you read is stupid, unless you are trying to illustrate Carbolic Smoke Balls. Lots of the techniques you will be encouraged to follow are stupid. By the third or fourth week, the underlining plus outlining plus notetaking plus win, lose, or draw was tiresome and I gave up. I got a "B"ad grade in Crim but I'm pretty sure I would have gotten that grade anyway, because by mid-November I was far more interested in having More Than Words inside closets and under study room tables in Furman with my clandestine lover Estepho than I was in the Model Penile Code (which is how I referred to the MPC in my head, just like I thought of "torts" as my most delicious class). I gave up all those suggested techniques second semester and stuck to just sequestering myself in Bobst for the month of "A-"pril and wrung out a few "A-"wesome grades.

I kind of feel like I am going through this process again, meaning the search for a study method. Even though I have tried speaking to older, wiser friends about how to approach the bar, it all still seems like trial and error to me. I have a stack of half-finished flashcards (I wrote down the questions, but not the answers, because I got bored!) and half-finished "condensed" outlines (I started them but then Shivakamini sent me some third-party outlines, so why should I bother?), and torn up, out-of-order Conviser Mini Reviews all over my room. It looks like a twister has been through here. The other day I got 5 out of 18 questions correct on a Torts problem set. The problem sets are multiple choice with four answer choices, and 25% correct would be 4.5 questions out of 18, which means if I had just written AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA on my scantron I would have gotten just as much correct as I did when I sat down, scratched my head, and puzzled my way to the wrong answers. Whoopsie! I am going to Google "bar review four color pen study technique" and see what insightful stranger's blog that takes me to. This is the first result:

This paper investigates the interaction ability when introducing pressure into current basic interaction techniques by developing two novel techniques. A Zoom-based technique with pressure (hereafter referred to as ZWPS) is proposed to improve pixel-target selection. In this technique the pressure is used as a switch mode to couple a standard Point Cursor and a zoomable technique together.

Unhelpful! I am hoping to discover that blogging is the best way to study for the bar!


* Lies! I am a bbraaaaaaaaains man! Bluster > bingos > seven-letter Boggle words > boobs > butts!

text from zoc

i had a dream that you and i were trying to find halloween costumes as big bird and elmo - me big bird you elmo

catholic cabinet

My dad, and everyone in his family, is Catholic. There's not much to show for this except one tiny crucifix that was above my parents' bedroom door for a decade or so in the 1980s and 1990s and a little cabinet in the living room with some Catholic trinkets.

The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake knocked this cabinet over and broke its glass doors in a spectacular fashion, and would have crushed Richard, who was watching the Giants vs. A's World Series pregame nearby, had Richard not run deftly to the backyard first. Lots of things broke in the house. So to protect Jesus,

Jesus is swaddled in foam.

Mary gets an insulation blanket.
The Pope Clock gets no protection. At noon and midnight, this clock plays an electric chime and a recording of John Paul II slowly reciting the Lord's Prayer in English. Even though I know it's going to happen, it startles me and Boo and we walk around the house until we locate the source of the voice.

Also in the cabinet is a letter that Stephanie and I wrote last December. My handwriting is, as always, better than Stephanie's but my Chinese sucks and I can't read half of the words we wrote. We used a dictionary. I bought the chops in China in 2006. Stephanie is Southern Baptist but the letter gets a spot in the Catholic cabinet nonetheless.

Here's my best friend, sleeping with his head under my bed.

And just for the hell of it, here is a picture of an amazing person Navneet and Bernie and I encountered while waiting for a ride on the miniature steam train at Tilden Park in Berkeley a few weeks back. The rest of his amazing family is not pictured.

you're so self-satisfied i don't need you

Let yourself enjoy this.


INT MIDNIGHT. DAUGHTER quietly gluesticking flashcards at folding table with black and white border collie mutt BOO dozing nearby.

Father: Here is some watermelon. Hello, Obama!
Daughter: What?
Father: He's half-white! On the stomach!
Daughter: [ashamed]

Saturday, June 21, 2008

narcoleptic slacker icon

is how Pandora describes Badly Drawn Boy. Why would that ever be a selling point? I fast-forwarded past that song. No more narcoleptic slacker icons for me! No more indie-ish rock at all, either! Ew! x 1000. Now it's onto Earth, Wind & Fire, and Aaliyah, who I really like! The Rolling Stones, hooray! I find myself inexplicably attracted to screamcore and metal, or rather, other people's attractions to screamed vocals over 32 thirty-secondth notes of Cmsus4 played with distortion on the distortion. On the BART yesterday I thought a ceiling fan was malfunctioning until I realized the noise was coming from the headphones of the white guy sitting next to me. Very interesting! What does one think about when one sits quietly on a commuter rail listening to music to be slaughtered to?

I am convinced that Dolly Parton is a frakking genius. Also, I am no longer ashamed to admit that I have liked the Grateful Dead since I was twelve, I cried and wrote a poem when Jerry Garcia died in 1994, and I don't care that 3/4ths of my former partners berated me for liking "baby music" because guess what?? You're former partners and I still love "Sugar Magnolia"! I am on the "Golden Road to Unlimited Devotion"! The Grateful Dead, Joan Baez, Ugly Kid Joe, the Donnas, and James Franco all went to my high school!


Daughter: Why are you plunging two strawberries in boiling water?
Father: Virus.
Daughter: What?
Father: Virus.
Daughter: Disgusting.
Father: Mmm.

coco crisp

It's hot as balls in the Bay Area. Tom points out that balls at optimal temperature are a little bit cooler than 98.6 degrees, so that's not an inaccurate thing to say. At 8:30 this morning I sheathed my thighs in crinkling, ruined spandex, slathered myself with sunblock and joined old old friends for a bike ride around the Portola Valley Loop. That's the twenty-some mile circuit that goes behind Stanford and allows a tour of the chaparral-covered hills that comprise the mid-Peninsula open space regime. At this time of year, the once-green chaparral has dried into wildfire-friendly golden bowls. There's one great stretch of Sand Hill Road you hit coming off Portola Road where it's downhill for about two miles and you are at high enough of an elevation to see the foothills on both sides of you and the Santa Cruz Mountains behind you, and in front of you a quick bunch of buildings called Stanford/Palo Alto and then, in the hazy distance, the salt marshes, the southern stretch of the bay, Fremont and Union City and finally the hills in the East Bay in the distance. It's downhill for a long span and it crosses the freeway on-ramp toward the end, so all you can do is cling to your handlebars and try not to let the bumps in the road send you flying. I wish I had taken some pictures but we were zipping along and there were no pauses for pictures, so instead you all will get the Smellera's recording of the morning's scenic bike ride: five hot cross buns rolling down a sand dune. We ate sandwiches afterward at a cafe and I felt so proud to have accomplished so much before noon, but since then my coconut has been too cooked to do anything besides stand under the garden hose (set on "mister"), lay in bed moaning, and eat bowl after bowl of cereal to cool my innards with soy milk.

When New Power Lioness and I picked up her baby sister from Oakland Airport yesterday, I said hello and then immediately criticized her for her poor judgment (she was wearing black tights, it was 95 degrees). But apparently it is fifty times hotter in the valley whenceforth she came, and I was just being rude. We cooled off by sitting in NPL's sweltering kitchen and eating rubberized pork loins and then driving around Lake Merritt to Wilbur's birthday party and dancing quietly to quiet music with our drinks balanced on top of our heads, which is what NPL's sister said the rich kids of Chandigarh do to show their appreciation for the liquor. NPL speculated that the balancing act permitted one to dance without spilling one's beverage, but I'm not sure about that, because half my beer ended on my shirt last night even though I diligently danced with it over my head. I explained the quiet, unenthusiastic, but happy dance party to the 22 year-old by saying we were this way because we were "aged," but NPL heard what she wanted to hear, that we were sedate because we were "Asian." Untrue. Alternative explanations were that we were all too mesmerized by the repetitive but effective flirting technique of a whispered-about Lothario, or heat-addled, or occupied by ice cream, to put any energy into our barefoot two-steps. NPL was sweet enough (thank you!!) to leave the party early and drop me off at the BART station before it turned into a pumpkin, so that I could begin the long, hot haul home. In an effort to experiment with driving/public transportation combinations, I drove to the Union City BART station and then took the train up to Oakland. It was a mistake. I spent four hours and fifteen minutes in transport, and approximately $18, to travel 69 miles.

Funny, I just saw that the O.Z. has texted me: "I got your package. You are the breast! <3">

Thursday, June 19, 2008

the thing about me is

I had an eventful, blissful four days in New York. The weekend's activities are summarized on this napkin from Hooters.

Here is the curatorial explanation:

The End of Days describes the weather. Cheryl's is a restaurant I and Stephanie and my favorite mens ran to to escape the weather, inside which aforementioned favorite mens had a sausage party and compared their impressive understandings of M. Night Shyamalan's oeuvre. A trashbin full of Kleenex is what Stephanie and I left in the Hilton Hotel on 57th Street. Blood on the sheets refers to a little clover of bright red plasma of unknown provenance that I hurriedly asked room service to remove. Central Park South refers to a walking tour that David led Stephanie and I on, late on Sunday night, of public art sites around midtown; David works for the Public Art Fund. Cy pres refers to some stream of funding that I never seem to understand in my capacity as the silent, thumb-sized croissant-eating student member of a board of directors of a non-profit for whose meeting I flew into town. Father's Day refers to the day of the year. James Yamada is an artist whose interactive sculpture sits on the corner of Central Park South and Fifth Avenue; it is a metal detector that lights LEDs in beautiful colors whenever you walk through it. Chris Burden is the artist who created the 65-foot structure out of erector sets that looks to be the shape of Rockefeller Center and is on display in front of Rockefeller Center. Moses is a story that has great significance to David, a former Korean evangelical, because it describes the journey of a man who leads his people to the promised land but dies before he can himself gain entry; David thinks it describes a particular person's function in his life. Tom Sachs is an artist whose 15' painted bronze casts of Hello Kitty and My Melody cry into fountains in the atrium of Lever House. Hooters is the classy franchise bar
where David, Stephanie and I ingested Budweiser, steamed oysters, and chicken wings while cheering the Celtics, or rather booing the Lakers, onto the Celtics' Game 5 loss. Carnegie Deli was a stop on the art tour. The disabled vet outside the deli asked for change by saying, "I was in Vietnam. You don't want me to do what I am capable of doing for money. I could do it, and I wouldn't regret it one second." Bath was what was taken. Sex was what was had, hysterically and sweetly. Study is what I tried to do on Sunday, at NYU. Anguish and defensiveness are self-explanatory. Cynthia's handstands passed the time at Raj's house on Saturday. Dylan's tours of Prospeck Park and Park Slope history were on trial run and sparsely attended in the oppressive Saturday heat, even though ginger-haired Dylan kept it formal (and kept his sephardic Irish skin from burning) with long sleeves and long pants, and after it ended tourgoers Stephanie and David joined a dispersing crew of people from Raj's surprise party. David's flood refers to what David discovered in his basement apartment on Saturday after returning from "The Happening." Jellybeans refers to the comestible I unwittingly inhaled a quart or two of while avoiding bar study. Cellphone refers to my phone, R.I.P., which died in the End of Days downpour. David's apt. is where Stephanie and the mens and I ran to, to dry off and kill some time and stretch, after finishing shared, slowly-served global soul dishes and getting caught in a downpour. I have no recollection of what "killing bairosh" refers to. Howling wind is self-explanatory. As is sunburn. Running down Clinton Street in downpour describes the frantic, futile activity of five people, two in flip-flops, none with umbrellas, all approaching 30 and huffing too hard, trying to get out of a sudden torrential thunderstorm. Lezlie Frye on bike is who we ran into serendipitously in Grand Army Plaza after a day of false serendipity. Raj's failure to comprehend surprise refers to a somewhat-failed surprise birthday party attempt, where instead of Raj being started with the traditional celebratory group yell, Emilou and I engineered several serendipitous meetings with Raj's friends on a putative "random" walk down Flatbush to the park, ending in a picnic on Long Meadow, resulting in Raj's continuing incredulity about his surprise party not actually being a series of happy accidents. Alexander technique and sit bones are what Cynthia showed me and Raj after finishing her handstands. Deli dinner is what I ate all three nights I was there, inside hotel rooms, with Stephanie, to avoid the tedium of dinners out and to accelerate the intimacy of isolation. Nap refers to the 45-minutes total I slept between Thursday morning and Friday late night. NYU shakes was a delicious unfinished meal. YouTube undersea diving was part of Sunday's comprehensive procrastination plan. Community is what I remembered we had created, what I longed for, and what brought me closer to the comprehension of my fault and the faultlines here.

(Some terms are missing because I compiled this list on Sunday night before my bed-ridden, sad and happy hangout with Indian.)

I went to therapy for the first time today. My intro session with the judgmental, sweaty dork in pleated khakis in 2006 does not count. I liked it. The guy was a former professor of philosophy at Stanford on his third career. He listened attentively to my convoluted stories and asked responsive questions for fifty-five minutes, and then at the end of the hour he made a few suggestions that widened my eyes, and I started to trust him. I hadn't seen things that way. What way? You'll never know.

But I am hopeful to be on my way to finishing that sentence that begins, "The thing about me is..." or at least devising some strategies to approach it. This sentence is an archetype for Stephanie, or it stands in for something. See, e.g., Ex. A, from an email she sent years ago:

we got home around 4am last night. i was really grumpy and stood against the wall at catty most of the time. that tall hapa person, A, from your lesbian fem panel was there in a white unbuttoned tuxedo shirt, and we said hello before she returned to licking the face and upper neck of a girl pinned against the wall and much shorter than her. john was belligerently drunk and struck me a couple of times trying to get my attention while dancing "like those kids on the pier...see my mirror? my hand's my mirror. now i'm putting on lipstick. you gotta be 'crazy in love'! that's you, stephanie, you're 'crazy in love'! uh-oh uh-oh uh-oh..." we were there for about an hour and a half, and D scoped out some people but didn't make any moves. mousti and john had primed her up for casual sex after hours of forcing her to drink homemade tequila sunrises and collectively fielding email responses to her craig's list posting --"young and mixed race" in downtown manhattan -- while i was out dishing with M.

at 6pm i had a caipirinha which i had to sleep off immediately on shabnam's futon mattress, and then with only a bowlful of boiled and unseasoned baby spinach in my stomach (i woke to everyone eating chicken pesto pressed sandwiches), i had a tequila drink and then two dark rum shaggies at great jones cafe. i felt really tired-drunk afterwards. i think i told you most of what M and i talked over. she's doing okay, i think. she welcomed my devil's advocate effort. i like instant intimacy, the way (as you know) i love it when people start sentences with, "the thing about me is...or I-i-i- think..." it makes me feel so human. that's why i wanted to hang with her -- not primarily or even tangentially to be nice to her because of you.
And see Ex. B, from about a year ago:

i finally gave in and purchased the Brokeback dvd...very disappointing special features, e.g. the Logo "behind the scenes" fluffy segment. i think i got the shitty version, definitely not platinum edition. but regardless i clutched a kleenex box through it and even my mom was glued to the screen. i'm still puzzling through all the reasons why i'm so seized by this film. it's titillating, and i can't wait until i arrive at firm enough of a conclusion to be able to say to someone, "the thing about me and Brokeback is..."

Stephanie is at the moment in Hanover attempting in vain to convince clueless scholars of pirate literature to think more than just dismissively about race, ethnicity, gender, and border crossing. It is a tedious and exhausting task but it is only so because in the past there was no Stephanie to raise hir (at conferences only) hand and express contrary opinions so it is incumbent upon this Stephanie to make this voice heard, tedious and exhausting as the process is.

Her job is to read closely and comprehend abstractions and then explain, so it makes a lot of sense to me that she would find delight in complete, discreet topic sentences describing people. The thing about a sentence that begins "The thing about me is..." is that the subject of the sentence is more revealing than the predicate. The reader does not put faith in the truthfulness of the adjectives and nouns that a person chooses for herself; just because a person describes herself as a beautiful, strong, sensitive Christian man does not make her a beautiful, strong, sensitive Christian man, except in present circumstances of course. The reader instead finds gratification in the fact that the person has chosen in the first place to make a proclamation about herself, that she is the kind of person who would feel confident or foolhardy or unguarded enough to say, "You should know this is who I think I am!" That person is telling the reader that she is watchful (I have observed myself) and sociable (and I would like to share with you) and okay with the amount of space she takes up in the world (that what you see is what you get). Stephanie likes people who begin sentences with "the thing about me is..." because those people are honest. I guess that's all I'm saying. Sorry it took me so long to get here.

And sorry generally for all the recursive grammar. I find it really assists in my understanding of subjectivity. To explain an earlier blog post, "Fish fish fish fish fish" means "Even tuna, who are eaten by marlins, in turn eat mackerel."

Thursday, June 12, 2008

bona fide mala fide

I've already told you this, but I will say it again here. I am having sleep problems in Palo Alto. It feels as if my brain has been eaten, digested, and shat back into my head, and then in the morning I bring it to bar review for a second run through the digestive system. In the afternoons I try to nap but lay in bed instead thinking about the things I have to do. At night I run as quickly as I can for half an hour and come home expecting exhaustion but instead feel a dull ache in my shins and lay in bed thinking about the things I should have done. The symmetry of my sleeplessness, but nothing else about this experience, is pleasant.

Although my brain is excrement, I am trying to use it to think about faith. There is good faith and there is bad faith. A juris doctor, my kind at least, is bad faith. A juris doctor, my kind at least, is trained primarily to have false confidence in her powers of persuasion and in her superior judgment, and therefore feels she can act with impunity, and then does destructive things and trusts in her powers of persuasion to mitigate the damage rather than not doing the hurtful thing in the first place, and then she sends blizzards of contrite verbiage until the person she has hurt has cried uncle and resigned to forgiveness by reason of snowblindness and confusion, and then she triumphantly calls the process a validation of faith. This is part of why people think lawyers are assholes. This is part of why lawyers, my kind at least, talk so loud and say so much nothing. Bad, bad faith.

I told you I didn't know whether I became this way because of the degree or I was drawn to the degree because I was already this way - probably the latter, and even my consideration of the former seems to be yet another example of my bad faith. My brand of bad faith is a variation of the J.D. theme, involving a bad faith in agency-free inertia to scab over open wounds, rub down the sharp edges of jagged things, and redirect the sinuous sapling in the shade to the sunlight where it will bend awkwardly around a wall but continue to grow. Faith in the therapeutic value of doing nothing is bad faith.

There is also good faith. Bona fide, in personam, nunc et in hora mortis nostræ. Good faith is faith in a belief that I act in bad faith to you now but I can and will will myself not to act in bad faith to you in the future. Parse that, dear spear, my linguist. I am searching for this one. Right now it is formless and unknowable and terrible as the face of God. I have sought help in this search, for now in the form of a calm man named Reed who offers sliding scale guidance on Thursdays at 1pm just a two-mile bike ride up the road for me. I am not confident I will find it, but that is in the nature of faith, isn't it? If you're certain then it's not faith anymore, just hubris. So I will just shut up now and have faith in the hunt for good faith. I hope you will too. This was the meaning of the polaris metaphor I botched a few days back when my taste for dramatizing the past ran away with what I wanted to say.

You say I am being vague and opaque in my public writing, but you should know that everything I say I say to reach you, Stephanie.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

sweat comin outcha pwohs

In the year since I last lived in Palo Alto, I forgot all about how frequently "Good Vibrations" is played on Movin' 99.7.

What an amazing video.

fleet foxes

I like this band and I like this song.

summer in winter, winter in springtime

I am thinking about this, SSFH.

2/3/08, 1:02 am

The kids at Crema are back to their old ways, by which I mean there are people screaming in the middle of the street outside and a "BUM-ba-dum-dum-BUM-ba-dum-dum" beat shaking windows all along Avenida de la Puerto Rico. It sounds like a car has pulled to a stop in front of the bar because now there are two competing overlaid beats and a throbbing engine and a guy who keeps saying "Heeeeeey!" All these ladies sound like they are speaking through the backs of their noses; I guess that's what it takes to be heard over the din. Will I remember any of this in two years? I haven't documented any of the little things around me that amuse me once a day or once a week, like the preacher woman who stands on the northwest corner of Johnson and Graham every Saturday morning (through afternoon) hollering into a microphone plugged into an amp in Spanish about Jesucristo saving our souls, or the football games that I like to watch on weekend mornings as I circle Boo around Sternberg Park's astroturf field once, twice, sometimes three times on a walk just to get a view of the action from all angles, or the pastry store that Stephanie and I walk to occasionally with Boo (pausing to allow the latter to defecate on the sign that says ""IF" you "let" your "dog" "SHIT" here I "WILL" "CALL" the "COPS"") on slow mornings to pick up hers-and-hers matching cinnamon buns and apple turnovers to munch on with our homemade soy lattes and Americanos, or Duck Duck, the bar on Montrose that we mostly avoid for fear of running into Owen (my summer subletter and all around fraud, the white boy who says he is from "West Philly" when actually he means he is from the mall in King-of-Prussia, Pennsylvania) but that we have, on occasion, patronized, to everyone's discomfort, or Food Bazaar, the biggest and best stocked and cheapest grocery store I've ever seen in New York (infinitely better than Midway!) that I go to once every week or two to stockpile the same old goods we eat every week (always a $.99/pound bundle of kale, and occasionally brussel sprouts, carrots, asparagus, broccoli, spinach, green beans, scallions, Baby Bel cheese snacks, vegetarian chicken patties, whatever bread is on sale, the 18-pack of large eggs, soy milk, vacuum-packed espresso bricks, a bag of Gala apples, pasta sauce in a jar, the cheddar cheese that is on sale, ground turkey for Boo, Triscuits for Stephanie, $2.99 imitation Honey Smacks cereal for me, "Easy Dieter" brand yogurt, the orange juice that is on sale, 7 for $2 Sunkist small oranges, dry lentils, dry navy beans, dry split peas, and ramen - that's the list!), or the house on Montrose that always has transpeople sitting on the stoop out front, which we pass on the way to Walgreens, where we buy tampons and soap and sometimes whatever recently-passed holiday's candy is on sale (which is where we picked up the gummy glowworms and the label gun gum). I want to write all of this down because finally now I am in the mood to start documenting what I have been experiencing.

Monday, June 09, 2008

meines vaters klavier

Ever since late 2006, my dad has been obsessed with the piano. He is terrible, and he improves very, very slowly. I sat down with him this winter and gave him a music theory lesson. Just the basics. Chords, intervals, keys, time signatures, sharps and flats. Periodically he calls me on the phone and asks me what "bb" means, or where the mysteriously missing Fb and B# keys are. His goal is to play "Lyphard Melody," a moderately difficult Richard Clayderman song. When my mom and I took a trip to China together in December 2006, he spent Christmas alone. He told me he drank a glass of wine that night, sitting at the piano, pushing keys once in a while, crying. Later I found something a note he wrote to himself on the piano: "Piano is the number one path to survival," in Chinese.

There is two-octave portable keyboard in the passenger seat of my dad's car. He says he keeps it there so he can go out to his car on his lunch break and practice the piano. We have a cheap jangle piano in the living room, but my dad prefers playing very quietly late at night, and has bought a five-octave keyboard so he can keep the volume down. It sits on an ironing board in what was once my bedroom.

Let me draw your attention to some details. First, note that "Lyphard Melody" sits on the keyboard. Note also that every single note has been highlighted in one of four colors of highlighter. I'm not sure of the purpose of this.

Note also the stapler underneath the keyboard. My dad wanted a pedal for the keyboard. He bought one from Fry's Electronics, looked at the wiring, and then returned it to the store. And then he made a pedal out of some wire and a stapler. To increase the piano's sustain, one must depress the stapler with one's foot. He is an electrical engineer.

The upright piano is in the living room. It's covered in trinkets and photos of me and Richard. On the far end of the piano, my dad has placed a cup and filled it with dollar bills. This way when he plays he feels like a cabaret performer. Whenever I sit down to play a song, he adds a dollar and applauds madly, shouting, "Hao!"

The piano bench in the living room has not only plastic shoes but crumpled ankle socks as well. This is to prevent scratching, of course.

I can hear him in my former bedroom right now. He is not playing the keyboard. He is sitting in front of the computer, listening to a cassette tape of somebody playing "Lyphard Melody" that he recorded off a video on YouTube.


I continue to miss you, Stephanie S.F. H. And also New York and its hot hot heat. This weekend I tried and failed to recover from my poor sleeping patterns. I took a long run in the California sun, got sunburnt, ruined my retinas, and then had margaritas with my very first girlf ever and the former drummer for the lil jazz ensemble I was in in 1998 - both were lezzie heartbreakers at their respective colleges, or so I have read - and then almost died from the combination of alcohol-induced redface and sunburned redface. Sunday I drove up to SF to play music with Jesse and his awesome friend Stephen. Stephen has a bowl haircut and is doing his postdoc in biochemistry. He has perfect pitch, which I know because he said, twice, "Perfect pitch, bitch!" He knew all the sound effects to “Baby Got Back” and sang along with the whiplash parts as I drove him and Jesse to Stephen’s house in the Mission. Then he claimed that Shakira’s “Hips Don’t Lie” was his “arch enemy” and laughed loudly at all the lyrics. “You make me, a man, want to speak Spanish?” When Shakira sang that her lover was “half man half animal,” he screamed, “What?? A CENTAUR???” I really liked him.

I am Aesop's grasshopper, but I don't care.

Sunday, June 08, 2008


Five a.m. on this coast. Those of you on the East Coast are just waking up. I can't sleep despite sunburnt delirium, three Tylenol PM, anguished exhaustion. What do I think of? Nothing at all. This may be hell!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

chat with z.o.c., january 10, 2007

zoc: your sexy when your focused

me: your is possessive

zoc: i like being ignored
of carlin, i know
i stepped back
give me some credit

me: no, "your" is possessive

zoc: its not like IDP does anything

me: you mean "you're"
the end.
i am a nerd.

zoc: hahahaha
grammar nazi
work hard
it drives me crazy!

me: your sexy when your focused
my sexy?

zoc: you're sexy when you're focused

me: thank you.

zoc: shuttup

me: bye

zoc: your welcome

This time I was mocked for being a "cheeseball."

timeless and glorious

I am once again ecstatically happy. The last time I felt this way I was mocked for being Whitmanesque, so I shall spare you the prosody that my heart tells me is appropriate for this feeling. That last time was also borne from an inexplicable faith in the second law of thermodynamics or the Little Dipper or God to return me and those around me to equilibrium. This time the provenance is a little clearer. I love you, and thank you, and join you, also, at last, in our belief.

job's tears

A Chinese powdered breakfast beverage, to which one adds 180ml of hot water. Ingredients: pine nuts, hard red spring wheat, brown rice, red beans, mung beans, Job's tears, barley, gingko nuts, sweet corn, poria cocos, Chinese yams, gorgon fruit, lotus seeds, ophiopogon root, rice beans, pinto beans, millet, dried lily buds, green peas, buckwheat, black beans, oats, non-dairy creamer, bean gum, dry malt extract, soy beans, rock sugar.

Hippie and Chinese, all at once. God bless California.

Friday, June 06, 2008

nothing we can say

Blogger tells me this is post #501 for me. I have been writing in this public journal for almost four years. The posts in the beginning were embarrassingly overreaching, and the posts now are uniform and rigid. In some time I will die and these posts will evaporate like 501 drops of morning dew.

My affect today is contrition. I am feeling bad because I made an offer to a friend of mine, induced reliance, and then rescinded that offer. She could have a contract claim against me if she weren't the antithesis of a person who pursues contract claims. Mostly I am just worried about her, and wish that I had my shit together enough to carry through with my promises and make her summer a little sunnier, and hope that she will be okay.

I recently discovered that a little story of mine was published in some Harvard rag after I graduated. I didn't know about it, and nobody told me about it. That's not really important. Anyway, I reread it. And if you would like to read it, it's here. Scroll to page 25. It will take up approximately eight minutes of your time.

for you, OZ

Since my acrostic made O.Z. cry yesterday, it only seems fair now that I should try to make him smile. So:

Have a good weekend. I will miss our text messaging support group.

entries from my notes, con law day 2

My mood.


I wake up at 8 a.m. and get on my bike between 8:30 and 8:35.

For two and a half miles, this is my view. Flat. Straight. Nearly traffic-less. Filled with sycamores.

I pass by the field where I go to see stars at night.

Sometimes Dustin dances on this field.

Then I turn onto this road, which points straight at Meyer Library.

Then I turn left at Meyer, and I see this sculpture.

And then I sit here for four hours. And then I go home.

mein sohn

That's what Dad has labeled Richard in his Windows Messenger profile. "Mein sohn."

There is also a document on the desktop called "Mein sohn's address."

I think Dad and I are the same person.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

apart from the law he seems a kindly good-natured person

One last item for the day. I have been reading Hound of the Baskervilles, because I (1) found it in the trash and (2) I am putting off the book I said I would read (The Sun Also Rises, to indulge my interest in stories about erectile dysfunction). It's been mostly a laugh riot, and I will quote the passages of deductive reasoning at some point in the future. But I found this amusing enough to post now:

One other neighbor I have met since I wrote last. This is Mr. Frankland, of Lafter Hall, who lives some four miles south of us.

He is an elderly man, red-faced, white-haired, and choleric. His passion is for the British law, and he has spent a large fortune in litigation. He fights for the mere pleasure of fighting, and is equally ready to take up either side of a question, so that it is no wonder that he has found it a costly amusement. Sometimes he will shut up a right of way and defy the parish to make him open it. At others he will with his own hands tear down some other man's gate and declare that a path has existed there from time immemorial, defying the owner to prosecute him for trespass. He is learned in manorial and communal rights, and he applies his knowledge sometimes in favor of the villagers of Fernworthy and sometimes against them, so that he is periodically either carried in triumph down the village street or else burned in effigy, according to his latest exploit. He is said to have about seven lawsuits upon his lands at present, which will probably swallow up the remainder of his fortune, and so draw his sting and leave him harmless for the future. Apart from the law he seems a kindly, good-natured person, and I only mention him because you were particular that I should send some description of the people who surround us. He is curiously employed at present, for, being an amateur astronomer, he has an excellent telescope, with which he lies upon the roof of his house and sweeps the moor all day in the hope of catching a glimpse of the escaped convict. If he would confine his energies to this all would be well, but there are rumors that he intends to prosecute Dr. Mortimer for opening a grave without consent of the next of kin, because he dug up the neolithic skull in the barrow on Long Down.

What the hell am I reading?


I have spent seven of the fifteen hours since midnight last night writing things for my blog. Ooops! Erwin Chemerinsky now calls.

games we play

Since my metaphors are a bust, then let me just stick to sweetly recalling the reasons I love you. Prominent among these many brazillions of reasons is your love for wordplay. No one is more adept with the screwiness and indecency of English, and Chinglish, than you. I would forego all the sleep in my life – as if I haven’t already! – to stay up late with you and laugh at the dumb puns we think of.

We have been thinking of turning the following list into an impulse-purchase book, to be published by a quirky imprint like Klutz and sold at the counters of franchise bookstores across the English-speaking world, and making sacks of cash, and then spending the cash on blow (JK, California state bar moral character committee, JK!!), but since you have temporarily devoted yourself to your dissertation and I have temporarily devoted myself to jumbling all of the elements of intentional torts and levels of constitutional scrutiny, I present it here, for other people to be amused by your big beautiful brain (housed as it is in your B.B.H.). We play these games with each other. You think they just kill time, but I think they make me crazy for you.


This is a game of metaphors. I know I am supposed to be shying away from metaphors today, but I think if I had played this game more diligently then perhaps you would not have been offended by my nonsensical blogpost about those seven bright spots in the sky, because it would have made more sense.

The object of the game is to describe what the smell of an object would look like. You suggested the ingenious and silly portmanteau “Smellera” (smell + camera) as a name. One must disassociate the smell with the thing that produces the smell, consider the mood the smell evokes, and then describe another image that would evoke that mood.

Example: What would the smell of burning tires look like?
Incorrect answer: A flame consuming a stack of black rubber.
Correct answer: A little girl beaten by clowns.

Example: What would the smell of lilacs look like?
Incorrect answer: Crushed purple petals of lilacs. [That’s just too literal, folks!]
Correct answer: Four people staggering arm-in-arm down the middle of a city street just before dawn on a Sunday. One of them trips and the rest go down with her.

Respeck Direck

A simple game that mostly just makes fun of southeast Asians. (Did I write that? Oh, no! It’s backwards day! I actually love people who love music created by shaking nuts and bolts in a jar!) The game originates in an extremely tedious documentary about women-loving-women that you prefaced with your brilliant commentary one long night last May. The object of this game have a conversation incorporating as many words that end “-ect,” except to pronounce them to rhyme with “-eck.” A simple, easy-to-understand, direck game. Profoundly entertaining, but only starting in the second hour of play.


This game has its origin in something I saw when I returned to Brooklyn from a trip to California in the summer of 2006. You had put a single yellow Gerber daisy – I love those! – in a single-stem vase and attached a note that said, “I miss you, Lemcy!” Underneath “Lemcy,” in faint pencil, I could see that you had considered writing “Nuñez” but erased it. What was “Lemcy”? And what was “Nuñez”?

I soon learned that these were the results of a new game you had invented while I was away. The object of this game is just to create encoded words. The coding system is simple. Each letter of a word is replaced with an adjacent letter. For consonants, it’s the next or previous consonant. For vowels, it’s any vowel, and sometimes Y. Or sometimes you just ditch the requirement of adjacency and the different treatment of vowels and consonants, and you go with whatever feels right. Hence M-A-N-D-Y became N-U-N-E-Z and L-E-M-C-Y, and S-T-E-P-H-A-N-I-E becomes S-T-A-O-G-U-M-O-I. Most of the time the new words make no sense, but sometimes they’re great.

But you didn’t tell me the rules of this game and you started calling me Lemcy and left me to figure out what the hell you were talking about! This game is called A-P-P-L-E, because of some obscure reference to the cryptex in The Da Vinci Code.

For example, a recent actual email exchange:
Mandy: Oh Staogumoi, you're always the cleverest!
Stephanie: Nooooooo Lemc, YOU are the dmititits!


Another very simple game. The object is to be the last person to say the word “bacne” on any given night. (“Bacne” is a portmanteau that describes the volcanic dermatological activity on the backsides of certain people’s brothers, and Gwyneth Paltrow. (I have seen the latter in person, and truth is an absolute defense to defamation!)) This game must be played in bed while both (or all) parties are extremely tired. The last person to say “bacne” wins, simple as that.

I won the first and last time we played this game!


I'm China Work on My Korea

One of my favorite games of all time, also a simple one. This is a game of puns on geographical names. The object of this is to have a conversation incorporating as many geographical names as possible. Everyone wins in this game.

For example:
Mandy: Staogumoi, get Djibouti in the kitchen and help me roast this Turkey!
Stephanie: Lemcy, I Canada right now! I’m China work on my Korea by finishing up this dissertation!
Mandy: Jamaican me horny. Does that Sweden the deal?

Lettuce Souprise You

There is actually a salad buffet franchise in the metro Atlanta area called “Lettuce Souprise You.” I’m not sure who thought that one would be a good idea. This game is just another variation on the pun theme, except using words related to foods found at a salad buffet and describing feelings of excitement or “souprise.” Example: “If we cantaloupe, lettuce marry!” and “You will always have a pizza my heart!”

Closely related to Women’s Reproduction, another pun game using words describing parts of female anatomy. Example: “Do you want to go out for fallopian food?” “Sure, as soon as this show is ova.”


This is a game of homophony, and isn’t something we created but is something we practice. The rest of you may be familiar with this one. A mondegreen is a word or phrase that is homophonous with another. “’Scuse me while I kiss this guy” is a pretty famous mondegreen. The way you make this game ours is by using your B.B.B. housed as it is in your B.B.H. to come up with incredibly weird shit. See, e.g., I am supposed to understand that, “inspiritu?” I can’t even think of an example to put here because I’m not half as clever as you.

How Big is a Crumb to a Mouse?

This is not necessarily a word game but is another game we play. It is a game of comparisons. It began because for years I have wondered the question in the game’s title, “How big does a crumb seem to a mouse?” The conclusion that you came to was simple: “As big as a biscuit seems to you.” I found this delightful, and for one hot summer we filled lazy hours asking these questions to each other. The object of the game, I think, is pretty clear, and I will illustrate by example rather than explain.

Example: How big is a ping-pong ball to a dog?
Incorrect answer: As big as a fist to you. [The answer is incorrect because it should be compared with an object of similar shape, color, texture, or theme.]
Correct answer: As big as a softball is to you.

Example: How big is a hamburger to an elephant?
Correct answer: As big as your kawaii Japanese hamburger erasers are to you.

Example: How big is a water bottle to an ant?
Correct answer: As big as a grain silo to a cat, or a sperm whale is to a minnow, or the Lipstick Building is to you.

This game is related to Miniature Dinner Party, which is not a word game at all but just a flight of fancy we like to take from time to time. We imagine how we could have a dinner party where we serve edible simulacra that will make our guests feel like tiny people. We could steam entire heads of broccoli and pretend each head is just a spear – because broccolis are fractal dendrite formations! – or boil and peel a thousand potatoes and fill a baby pool with potatoes and have our guest hold two hiking poles like chopsticks and pretend the potatoes were rice! We could spear whole chickens on sugarcanes and call them kabobs. This is also an endlessly entertaining game, and is closely related to Giant Dinner Party, where we do exactly the opposite and serve edible simulacra meant to make our guests feel like giants. Baby corn is always on the menu.


We fell in love fast and furious in the fall and winter of 2005-2006. For certain reasons that will go unenumerated here, we had to find a clandestine way to communicate with each other. Turns out we hid in plain sight, and I filled my blog, and you yours, with our secrets to one another. The object of this game is to tell your lover you are sorry for the ways you have wronged her, and you have faith now, and you will do better. You should do this in as direct a way as possible, e.g.:

But now I’m back in Palo Alto, and it's harder to communicate these things from afar. Unclear why I'm here. You can't do a damn thing after 9 p.m. in this tiny town, and I miss our city and our shitbox and our lives. And so I walk around with a dog that misses you terribly, and look for answers in the sky, and then misinterpret them and miswrite them and upset you. Oh, what am I saying? We've gotten out of practice. Actually, it may just be me. No one could be expected to put up with this, and I understand you want to leave. Go, sally forth, but come back soon. Just about three months will do it, right? I couldn't stand more. We can do it in less. Or, I think we should just talk until we figure something out. A lot of talking may be required. In New York. Night time, or any other time you prefer. I'll be there in a week.

entries from my notes, con law day 1

I cannot maintain for long this voice of simple, literal, dolorous sentences about slight movements that weave into extended metaphors using the past and present, storytelling and contemplation, sensation and feeling. The metaphors never say what I want them too, I offend when I mean to encourage, and then I scramble to clean up the fallout. We all know how long half-lives are for radioactive material; the damage stays on.

So I think I would do better to stop searching for symbolism in my life and then writing uncontrollably about it. It is in my nature to write bright, extremely clever, lighthearted crap. So I now return you to the morning’s notes, taken during Professor Erwin Chemerinsky’s review of the federal judicial power:

Gina works the diner all day. One of her customers, Customer, grabs her hand as she approaches his booth and forcefully demands a date with her for the following evening. Gina politely declines, and wrenches her hand away, perhaps more forcefully than she needs to. She feels a twinge in her ulna. Customer leaves by paying the check mostly in dimes and nickels, and leaving $.04 as her tip, causing Gina to experience nausea and premature menstrual spotting. Gina leaves the diner at the end of the day and drives her old Cutlass Sierra to meet her boyfriend, Tommy, where he is on strike at the docks.

When she pulls out of the parking lot, her front right tire, manufactured by Kumho Tires, sold by Searcy’s Distributor to Slocum Auto and then to the used Cutlass distributor from whom Gina leased her car, blows. Although Gina has had training as a NASCAR driver, not even a NASCAR champion, and certainly not Gina in this case, could control a Cutlass with a blown tire, and she careens into a nearby building. The building is an inn hosting a convention of common carriers. No one inside the building is hurt by the accident, but there is extensive damage to the building. Innkeeper angrily runs outside toward Gina, waving a copy of his accident insurance policy, demanding settlement. Gina stumbles of her car with a dazed look, and Intervener, a Good Samaritan who is on her way to check whether Gina is hurt, accidentally kicks Innkeeper in the shin as he stalks by. As a result, Innkeeper declares, “Intervener, everyone knows you’re a leperous crone!”

Graham Greene, an upstart journalist sipping a venti half-caf latte at a café nearby, overhears Innkeeper’s shout and mistakes Intervener for a famous movie star who has recently purchased Brownacre, a toxic waste dump that leaches chemicals into the groundwater at the edge of town. The next day, the Town Inquirer publishes a news story on the movie star’s putative leprosy, and an accompanying editorial lambasting her as a leprous carpetbagger for her recent property purchase.

If, decades later, Graham Greene, spurred on by his successful reportage on the leprosy crisis of the late 2000s, wins a Pulitzer and publishes a well-renowned treatise on investigative journalism, who will prevail in a negligence suit brought by Intervener against NASCAR?

  1. NASCAR, because Intervener had a duty to mitigate.
  2. Intervener, unless NASCAR committed a battery on Gina.
  3. Neither. Because of the political question doctrine, the courts may not intervene.
  4. Hearsay.


I don't know why I keep writing about looking at things outdoors. I think there must be something in California's allergens that turn ordinary people into metaphor-hungry, spirituality-starved hippie melancholics. I am taking antihistimines both to combat the insomnia and the spirit of the Sixties. They work against neither!

You know what I realized? I love people who love people who love language. My current campaign to win my partner back focuses on snowing her under with verbiage, via talks, texts, emails, chats, and if all goes well, logorrhea to an uninterested clinician, by the doctrine of transferred intent, said the hero in this story. Fish fish fish fish fish. It's a dogs dogs dog eat dogs dogs dog world.

the little dipper

I only recently realized that you see much more in the dark with your flashlight turned off than with it on. On, all you get is a spot of illumination that stretches, at its dimmest point, at most fifteen feet in front of you, and everything beyond that point is terrifyingly black. You mostly illuminate yourself and permit others to see you. Off, you’re blind at first, but your eyes adjust and you start to spy movements, then shapes, then details, in the dark.

I left the house tonight just before midnight for a walk. I felt brave, because being alone and outside in Palo Alto after 10 p.m. scares me. Everyone in this town is asleep or dead. It’s dark all around, and there are wide streets you can walk on for half an hour without seeing a single car go by. There are occasional streetlights, but their bulbs are filled with sodium vapor and the light they cast just passes through the bursting skins of the many sycamores on my street and creates frightening orange shadows everywhere. Even the sound of liquid amber gumballs scraping around on the ground scares me, afterhours.

Before I left, Dad equipped me with two headlights, one for my head, one for Boo’s head. I left them on until we were out of his worried sight, and then walked in the semi-dark the three long blocks to the giant field next to my middle school. Three or more football fields could fit on it. It’s latched shut in the day time when unhappy twelve year-olds are forced by their lesbian P.E. teachers to crab-walk on it – an image that brings me delight every time I recall it – but after school hours it’s free for dog frolicking. It’s next to a private elementary school. Both schools empty completely by seven and leave a long, quiet stretch of N. California Avenue more or less free of traffic until seven the next morning.

At day’s end, the California dry bake becomes a dry chill. I used to walk in the foothills at night with my bottom-weighted Pisces not talking, just shivering. I had a t-shirt on so I pulled my arms into the barrel of the shirt and clutched Boo’s leash through it. Boo was ecstatic about his unexpected walk and pranced ahead of me sniffing and peeing on bushes. We got to the field and I unleashed him and chased him so he would run around. He took off for the sprinklers on the far side of the field, hundreds of feet away.

I had come to relax my eyes. My go-to explanation for my insomnia is that light pollution in the western hemisphere has permanently damaged my circadian rhythms and made me unable to discern night from day, so I can’t sleep, and my foggy brain will never be brighter than the constant twilight it perceives. The trick, I think, is to reintroduce it to darkness. The middle of the field is the darkest place I can get to on a walk from my house, so I stood there a moment and looked up at the sky. I did what I always try to do: locate the Big Dipper and the pointer stars, measure five cup-heights, and follow my friends Dubhe and Merak to shy, elusive Polaris at the door of her inscrutable hat-shaped house.

I can never find the Little Dipper, but I like to make a sport of trying. Years ago I lay on a riverbed in New Hampshire with a nineteen year-old girl who loved mathematics and explained to me, as I searched the night sky for the Little Dipper, how a the four-dimensional equivalent of a sphere would manifest in the third dimension as a point that expands to a sphere that contracts back to a point and then disappears. The girl’s unfortunate name created the same phonemes as a phrase describing an action one might take on safari – her first name sounded like the name of an African prey animal, and her last name was pronounced “Shoots” – and this spring I saw her for the first time in five years, in a suit, interviewing at the NYU Law public interest fair – but what am I saying – oh, that I did not find the Little Dipper that night, but I found God in the combination of the night sky and the fourth dimension, and for the first time in my dumb little life I understood what “awe” meant, and I have been waiting to see it again ever since.

I told somebody once that she was my north star. In fact, I declared this, as a speech-act, in front of more than a hundred raptly attentive people at a bend in Horseshoe Creek. They cried with joy and applauded after I said this. It turned out I was lying, or exaggerating, or mistaken, because only three months later I had completely lost my bearings and gone in an entirely different direction looking for true north. I am starting to think that my hunt for the Little Dipper is a fool’s errand, because my compass will always be drawn off course by magnetic declination, or because my plastic-capped eyes have deteriorated beyond repair and can simply no longer see, or because the Little Dipper is an invisible fiction. Or I am just faithless, and an inconstant person cannot find a north star.

I didn’t find it tonight. I stood there for a few long minutes, and my eyes started seeing streaks and constellations where there were none. Stars emerged and then faded. Blinking lights traveled the long slow distance between takeoff and landing. The bottom fifth of the sky to the south was almost white from the lights in San Jose, and a car drove the lonely stretch in front of the field and flooded me out with its headlights anyway. Boo ran back toward me and I dropped to my knees and wrestled with him. He batted me with his front legs but then I accidentally stepped on his foot and he cried loudly and retreated from our game, so I apologized to him, leashed him, and led him off the field and back toward home.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

entries from my notes, essay workshop 1

George Takei just said something about real property and trusts – I really thought he was speaking in a foreign language. Dutch. Amharic. Maybe Russian. OMG. OMGWTF.

Another thing I miss about New York: short blocks and difficult-to-maneuver bike routes. My bike ride to Stanford consists of three straight, fast, boring lines. I get up at 8 a.m., nuke a bowl of oatmeal, slice strawberries against my thumb, eat it while checking my email and reading the news, shoo Boo into the backyard, and climb on my bike and roll out. It is one block to the left turn onto N. California Avenue. Two and a half miles straight down N. California and Stanford Avenue. Right turn at Escondido Road, straight for a mile past the elementary school and a sea of dorms. Then I am at the large outdoor Alexander Calder sculpture (!) that tells me I have arrived at F.I.R. Hall, and I go to the law school café, sheepishly beg for a cup of hot water for the teabag I’ve brought from home, thank the friendly patient man in the café who gives it to me every day, and make my way to the third middle row, fourth seat of Room 290, try to say something witty to Pamela, text Oliver and Connie the run-time of today’s DVD, and wait for the lecture to start. The most exciting part of the ride is when I go under Alma and I can hear the Caltrain pulling out of the station over my head. But other than that, it’s just pump, pump, pump. I concentrate on the size and power of my quadriceps, which ache, because there are neither turns to strategize nor cars to negotiate nor traffic lights to give me rest. It takes seventeen minutes to get there and fifteen minutes to get home. No bridges, no Hasidim, no Manhattan drivers, no Domino factory, no view of life from over the East River. I don’t even sing to myself.

Sometimes, to make the ride go by faster, I envision getting creamed by the #35 bus, flying off my bike like a formless sack of flour, my bones already shattered, and landing with a thud on the asphalt and having a gold Prius driven by a distracted thirty-eight year old mother of three on her way to Walgreens for extra-large tampons and Valium – she’s on her cell phone arguing with Bank of America about a late fee she thinks was improperly levied - run over my head, crushing my helmet, closing my casket at the funeral, devastating my parents, reuniting my friends, kindling guilty relationships (how could you say on your wedding website that you met at your mutual friend’s funeral?), laying the groundwork for the memorial sewer cap that will be placed for me in a park in the middle of a traffic island on El Camino Road and will prevent generations of stupid schoolchildren from accidentally dropping into the sewage, and I am glad that my death could provide the public service that my foreshortened life could not. The photograph that will be enlarged and framed at my funeral will be the image of me, taken at the moment I heave a 4-kilogram shotput away from my chin, my face pruning with exertion, my sheer green and white jersey clinging to the outer bounds of my spare tire, that was published in the Palo Alto Weekly’s high school sports section in 1995. You will shake your heads and say, “What a waste!” and “Alas, we hardly knew ye!” and “She is as cheap in death as she was in life and I knew there weren’t going to be spanikopitas at the wake.” I will smile upwards wistfully upon this scene from the lava-surrounded igneous rock from which I will have my everlasting vantage point onto the world and occasionally leave to haunt Stephanie. I don’t think it would be so bad.

I miss New York.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

a memory

I saw a view once. I don’t remember much about it. I don’t remember very much about the ten or so backpacking trips I have taken in my life. Maybe it’s even less than ten. I could count them all, just as I could count the number of lovers I’ve had, but I will always forget the numbers and the details. I have been telling friends that I’ve been feeling religious lately, but that I only use “God” as shorthand for the inexplicable forces that control the things around me, and here is one example of this developmentally retarded religiosity: I tell myself that I am unable to remember the number of lovers I’ve had, or the number of camping trips I have taken, or the rules regarding impeachment with extrinsic evidence, because I am not meant to remember these things. God is like the parasympathetic nervous system that shuts your mind down if your mind is only going to hurt you. God helps me feel satisfied with known unknowns.

So I cannot remember where I saw this view, but I remember coming across it somewhere in the deciduous forests of the White Mountains – or the Sierra Nevadas – or western Massachusetts – a view somewhere at midday on a long hike. Might have been August 1998 or May 2000 or May 2002 or August 2002. We had hiked hard the whole summer day under tree cover. Our eyes that day had only seen sunlit patterns of bright calico on the trail duff and the long, snaking lines of elm, beech, and oak trees. No vistas, just trees and dead leaves - envision white noise, on a mountain.

Somewhere close to the summit, we came to a clearing that was a large, smooth granite slope, down which a stream of water flowed. The stream came down the cracks and pooled in the levels of the rock. One pool was exactly the right size for someone to lay on the rock above it and plunge her head into it, and the day was hot and muggy, so we dropped our packs by the side of the trail took turns dunking our heads into the cool water. Others splashed their arms and legs in the other pools. I remember a tall gangly boy in shorts whipping his head around and spraying the rest of us with oily water from his scalp. We were on the west side of the mountain and when I looked out I could see the sun halfway down the sky directly across from me. There were mountains, and mountains beyond those mountains, and more, and finally just indistinct shapes in the distance, and all of these mountains were blanketed with trees. The granite dropped off sharply just down the mountain from where we were and if you followed the slope with your eye you could see a steep valley hundreds of feet below us. The sky was cloudless and there were no structures in sight.

Even as I write this I know it is lacking. The literal description fails to capture what was, I guess, ineffable about that view. I should have taken a picture, but I suppose a picture would only have fixed in two dimensions what is now a flexible abstraction that permits me to perceive differently each time I recall the memory. I would usually resort to metaphor to describe it at this point, but I don’t have patience for it and it doesn’t matter, and I suspect this whole story is some sort of metaphor anyway.