Monday, December 15, 2008
If you work really really hard all day writing, things become beautiful: the writing on the back of a menu, the gray ordinary cloud, the way the ceiling intersects with the wall.
"Work makes life sweet" That's what bell hooks's grandma said.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Sunday, December 07, 2008
I got them from this webpage: http://eyepatchstore.com/_wsn/page4.html, which sells eyepatches "for medical and cosmetic reasons." Eye patches are sexy. They're like one-eyed sunglasses. I love the peek-a-boo mystery, we know that there may be something, er, "unsightly" under the patch, yet it's covered by this lovely debonair opaque monocle. You get part of the "I'm blind and therefore wise" on one side and full ocular action on the other. It's like a headband with a flap. I love them. I want one. I highly encourage you to check out this webpage's gallery of eyepatch-wearers throughout history. He's my favorite:
I spent my last $10 on fake glasses in 1998 when I lived at BYU:
And my coworkers at Barnes and Noble made fun of me when they found out. How did they know? I wouldn't let them try them on.
Maybe I could rock an eyepatch for "cosmetic" purposes, as the website says. I think that I might make people worry though; I'd have to explain it all the time (the most annoying thing about my lip piercing: "did that hurt?"). I could only wear the patch around people I didn't know, like when I went grocery shopping. Or on the bus.
One time my friend's Dad almost lost his eye. She went to visit him in the hospital, and when she was in the parking lot she looked down and saw an eye patch someone had crafted with a fake eyelash glued to it. She took it as a good sign (her Dad did not lose his eye). What was the most bizarre thing about this story is that a few years before that, when I went to visit my grandfather in the hospital on the other side of the country, I went to get into my car and on the cement there was a purple velvet eyepatch with a fake eyelash glued to it.
Saturday, December 06, 2008
Seriously. Is it that true? I wish we'd start saying "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" more often. Or "little pitchers have big ears." Or "You always kill the one you love." Really people!
P.S. They even say the Rome idiom in Korea and Japan.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I'm taking a Caribbean poetry class this Fall and for our unit on dub poetry I've done a bit of research on Rastafari. What is most interesting to me is the grammar, using "I" as a plural pronoun. Check out this wikipedia page.
What I think is so amazing about this video is the number of allusions in it that only a person very familiar with Rastafari and reggae culture would get. However, it makes people want to figure them out (look at all the different comments on the guy's blog), thus it becomes a kind of educational tool. So even though it is making fun of innocent/ignorant white folks, it is simultaneously educating them/us. It makes us question the validity of appropriating other cultures' customs without true knowledge of them, but, instead of demonizing the people who do this, it just makes them just look ignorant and therefore laughable. This is really powerful. When you realize that this video is primarily intended to make people laugh, it makes you think about what tools are really effective for social change. Satire works.
Besides, there's no way I would have even know that the word "bumbleclot" is an insult in Rastafari culture that means dirty menstrual cloth if it weren't for this video. (Thanks to my brother's blog to telling me about this video.)
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Long before they were known to English speakers as avocados, they were called alligator pears.
In fifteen years rebel kids will co-opt Swiper from Dora the Explorer.
Hip Hop will co-opt the Rebel flag.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
It doesn't make any damn sense to read about Parmesan Black Pepper muffins while you're eating fried rice, but I do it all the time. Problem is that I end up sitting there a few hours later still reading about creamed cauliflower or currants, and my should-be leftovers are congealing on the stove.
So that's what I did tonight, with my Thursday-is-the-new-Saturday grad student schedule. This time though I sat at the computer, and a few glasses of wine and a few extra scoops of fried rice later, I found this website: Eat Drink One Woman She has different folks fill out a food-related questionnaire each week. Reading them in succession helps distract you from your pretty unsuccessful fried rice.
I thought it would be fun to answer the questionnaire myself. I heartily encourage you doing the same in the comments. Maybe you could do it one-handedly while you are eating? If y'all all do, I'll make a new post just for them!
Name: Susanna Williams
Occupation: Grad student/ English tutor
Borough: In CA we call them neighborhoods, and mine is actually a small town called Moss Beach.
Relationship status: That has nothing whatsoever to do with food and is none of your damn business.
What did you eat today?
Half carrot/half orange juice on campus
Frozen banana, vanilla soy milk, almond butter smoothie
Veggie-melt sandwich from the local pizzeria I have never eaten at
Half a chocolate bar when I woke up from my nap (I had a bit of a hangover)
Fried rice I made at home
What do you never eat?
Restaurant Chinese food, mustard, relish, chicken breast, chicken nuggets, milk, chocolate and mint together
Complete this sentence: In my refrigerator, you can always find:
vanilla soy milk, carrots, celery, butter, frozen bananas (for smoothies), Hellman's mayonaise (y'all call it "Best Foods" in the west)
What is your favorite kitchen item?
My square wooden spoon. It's a spoon and spatula. And has notches in it from when it was once used as a drum stick.
Where do you eat out most frequently?
The food on campus at SF State is surprisingly healthy, cheap, and delicious. I eat the falafel plate on campus a lot or get a weird healthy burrito (I'm a sucker for bourgeois burritos).
I also eat burritos at the taqueria in Half Moon Bay that doubles as a fried chicken joint. It's SO HANDS DOWN the best taqueria on the coast. And I will fight you if you disagree.
And I guess I eat out in Big Sur a lot at the bakery for breakfast.
World ends tomorrow. What would you like for your last meal?
It depends on who is with me. If it's my love, then I would eat sexy food that makes me close my eyes and chew. Blue cheese, lamb, fatty raw tuna, artichokes, chocolate truffles from Recchiuti (it's in the Ferry building). If it's my family, then squash casserole, grandma's green beans she grew in her garden and canned, mama's mac and cheese casserole and chicken n' dumplins, my pecan pie, sweet tea, and Aunt Sherry's peach ice cream. There should be a bread, but I swear that nobody in my family (including me) can make a decent bread, be it cornbread, biscuits, or pie crust. I'd probably be happiest with canned biscuits (and apple butter). If I were alone, it's be Strauss whole milk yogurt and some maple syrup, a nectarine, a salad with kidney beans and garbanzo beans, pumpkin seeds and slivered almond, radishes and grated carrot and celery with sweet miso dressing. And a tuna salad sandwich with a lot of tarragon and mayo. And I'd bring back the artichoke and dip it in Hellman's with white wine and gigantic black olives that taste like soil.
Oh PLEASE tell me yours! PLEASE.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Um, okay...sit back and relax. We're going to a time when even hot young people danced like nervous 12 year old boys shuffling back and forth from one foot to the other. And a pop singer could reflect the depth of emotion in his song by merely opening and closing his palm dramatically. My favorite part is the harmonica solo.
Why do they dance like old people? WHY DO THEY DANCE LIKE SENIOR CITIZENS? I'm sure their hips are still full of cartilege!
Monday, September 22, 2008
It was a very small party. It was just her and her friends and the guys from Samoa. One guy mixed up a big wooden bowl of kava and he'd ladle some into a wooden cup and they would clap and go "Kava Kava" and then pass the cup around and everyone would drink it. And they drank cup after cup after cup after cup. And then everyone was brushing each other's hair and giving each other back rubs and they were all so close and comfortable and nice and it was all strange because they had all just met each other.
And the next morning, when Susanna woke up and was confused about why she let a guy she barely knew brush her hair and another guy give her a back rub, she found out that Kava Kava is a sedative with mild psychoactive properties and drinking 10 cups of it is akin to a large dose of Valium.
So now she buys it on purpose and drinks it at night while she is studying.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Mac, this post might make you cry.
This is in response to my brother's post, "Missing My Damn Pater Familias" about the online radio-ish station Pandora, which uses some sort of magic voodoo to accomplish its purposes. You can type in any artist and they will make a radio station that plays music similar to that artist. My brother wrote in his blog that he found himself wanting to email our Dad and tell him about it, and then realized that he couldn't. He thinks that Dad's favorite radio station would have been the Jimi Hendrix station.
When my Dad died, I got his iPod, and, after listening to the songs on it for a few weeks, I finally had to just move on and put my own songs on it. But I couldn't do it without cataloging every single song on his iPod, including his 25 most played. These were the top ten:
1. "Ruby Tuesday" Rolling Stones
2. "Me and Bobby McGee" Janis Joplin
3. "We've Only Just Begun" The Carpenters
4. "Don't You Want Somebody to Love" Jefferson Airplane
5. "One Way or the Other" Blondie
6. "Hurt So Bad" The Letterman
7. "Purple Haze" Jimi Hendrix
8. "Bad Moon Rising" Credence Clearwater Revival
9. "Southern Cross" Stephen Stills
10. "These Eyes" The Guess Who
Before I go any further, I need to explain to those of you who are just joining us that my Dad died last October 30th. He had a very rare brain disease whose first major symptom is psychosis. So my Dad quite suddenly went crazy, but we didn't know he was going crazy. My Dad presumably stopped listening to this iPod in early August right before he became bat shit crazy. I draw your attention to this fact because it makes absolutely no sense that my Dad would like Blondie. And I do not understand why Janis Joplin is #2 on his list. I never heard him listen to her.
Below is a list of every single track on the iPod in alphabetical order. The numbers before the tracks are the rankings in his top 25 most played. Jimi Hendrix didn't rank as high as we would have expected. I read this like a diary or a poem, especially the end, and it hurts:
Abba—Take A Chance On Me
Addicted to Love
Al Green—Lean on Me
Al Green and Annie Lennox—Scrooge Soundtrack—Put a Little Love In Your Heart
17.All Along the Watchtower
Allison Kraus—When You Say Nothing At All
Allman Brothers—Ramblin’ Man
16. Back in the USSR
8. Bad Moon Rising
Beach Boys—Fun, Fun, Fun
Beach Boys—Good Vibrations
14. Beatles—Let it Be
Bette Midler—Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy
5. Blondie—One Way or Another
Box Tops—Cry Like a Baby
Carly Simon—You’re So Vain
4. Don’t You Want Somebody to Love—Jefferson Airplane
24. Drifters—There Goes my Baby
Elton John—Crocodile Rock
Elton John—Pinball Wizard
Fifth Dimension—Let the Sunshine In
18. Free Bird
20.I’ve Been Waiting for a Girl Like You—Foreigner—Foreigner 4
12. (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
Jimi Hendrix—Are You Experienced
Jimi Hendrix—Foxey Lady
7. Jimi-Hendrix—Purple Haze
19.Kinks—All Day and All Of The Night
22. Leaving on a Jet Plane
Led Zeppelin---Stairway to Heaven (Rare Acoustic)
Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd—Whole Lotta Love
6. The Lettermen –Hurt So Bad
13.Magic Carpet Ride
Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terell—It Takes Two
11. Maybe I’m Amazed—Paul McCartney—Wings Over America
2. Me and Bobby McGee—Janis Joplin
23.Pink Houses—John Cougar—Scarecrow
15. Platters—Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
Political Grapevine: 7/25/07—Brit Hume’s Grapevine
Political Grapevine: 7/27/07—Brit Hume’s Grapevine
Political Grapevine: 8/1/07—Brit Hume’s Grapevine
The Radio Factor—7/25/07—The Radio Factor
The Radio Factor—7/27/07—The Radio Factor
The Radio Factor—8/2/07—The Radio Factor
The Radio Factor—8/3/07—The Radio Factor
Roy Orbison—Only the Lonely
Roy Orbison—Pretty Woman
1. Ruby Tuesday—The Rolling Stone—Flowers
Sloop John B
9. Southern Cross
10. These eyes
3. We’ve Only Just Begun
5 Minute Newscast (1 PM EST 7/26/07)—FOX News Radio
5 Minute Newscast (2 PM EST 7/29/07)—FOX News Radio
5 Minute Newscast (4 PM EST 8/2/07)—FOX News Radio
5 Minute Newscast (5 PM EST 8/3/07)—FOX News Radio
5 Minute Newscast (7 PM EST 7/29/07)—FOX News Radio
5 Minute Newscast (9 PM EST 7/27/07)—FOX News Radio
By white night-gowns.
None are green,
Or purple with green rings,
Or green with yellow rings,
Or yellow with blue rings.
None of them are strange,
With socks of lace
And beaded ceintures.
People are not going
To dream of baboons and periwinkles.
Only, here and there, an old sailor,
Drunk and asleep in his boots,
In red weather.
by Wallace Stevens
P.S. Wallace Stevens was a businessman.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
This woman decided not to eat out at all, akin to a media fast, for two years. Over the two years, she became a pretty rad cook. She's an omnivore, but she buys most of her stuff local. Also, her mom is from Taiwan and taught her a lot about cooking, so many of her recipes have an Asian influence. The number one thing I learned from her is that Sriracha hot sauce is always a good idea.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Last time I wrote in this blog I was smack dab in the middle of grieving. As I've said 20 million times on this blog since my Dad died, grief is peculiar. It never looks like what you would expect. I do think I was right when I wrote at the end of July that this was the "dark night of my soul." Oh sure, yes, it's a bit dramatic, but fuck it all, life is dramatic sometimes. Plus, I was alluding to Joseph Campbell's heroic journey: I was passing through the dark valley, the unknown, where things don't make sense and you are confused and lost and alienated from others.
So I did what any decent hero would do, I went to Hawaii by myself for 9 days. I camped and stayed in hostels and went hiking and snorkeling and scuba diving and sat on the beach and made Austrian friends. The point of the trip, really, was for me to do something special for my Dad's birthday. The day before his birthday, I was driving through a rain shower toward a black canyon and the man on the radio said, "It's August 10th, 2008." Before I could think about how it's the day before my Dad's birthday and he's not here and I'm here alone on an island in the middle of the world, the man says, "The past in ash in the wind. The future is a seed germinating." Hearing that was profoundly comforting.
At my Dad's funeral, I spoke. One of the things I said was that my Dad is still alive in me. I have his eyes. He was there with me in Hawaii. I am a part of him, and he still exists because I and my brother do. And the next step of the heroic journey after the dark night of the soul is the atonement with the father.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
But here I am, and I'm writing now.
My father died ten months ago, and I think I am really just now beginning to deal with it. This is a dark night of my soul. I am finally grieving...I think. The only thing I know about grief is that it looks completely different than you expect. I'm angry at everyone and I feel like things aren't going to work out happily. Life is more complex than that, surely, so I know that this is just one thing I can see right now. There's a million other things going on around me and within me, but right now I'm a misanthrope who wants to be left alone. Maybe in a minute or two I'll feel like playing ping pong.
Thursday, June 19, 2008
I hate it when people don't update their blogs, and I also hate it when web pages look old and retarded. That is what is wrong with this blog, and I'm either going to fix it or stop writing in it. I haven't decided yet. For my birthday my Mom gave me www.susannawilliams.com. That was six months ago.
This is my dilemmna: I want to write what I want to write, and not worry about who reads it. I don't want to go into a list of every debauchery I committed the first time I smoked crack, but I would like to be able to say "I smoked crack" trusting that the people reading this blog know me well enough to know that there is no fucking possible way in hell that I have actually ever smoked crack. And I just wish that I didn't have to say that so, well, explicitly.
The thing is that I don't really know who is reading this blog, and I truly don't want to offend anyone. I suppose that I could say that if anyone is offended he or she doesn't have to read it, but the thing is that several of my family's friends know about this blog through my brother's blog. At my Dad's funeral, while I was shaking hands and saying "thank you" and behaving like a lady who would have made my Dad proud, several people told me that they read my blog. I was embarassed. I don't think I am too overly personal, but I do use profanity and admit to not flossing and occasionally smoking crack. (If you still think I actually smoke crack, please read more closely.) I think it's rad that my Dad's friends and that my family takes an interest in me, but I hate to think that I am offending anyone, especially since so many of these lovely people are Mormon.
The other thing is that my students could potentially google my name and find me here.
I have to be able to write what I want to write; I don't believe in censoring anything truly creative, and this is more a creative endeavor than a public journal or a place to tell people about my life.
I guess the future of this blog is undetermined. It may continue, but it will probably be different from how it has been.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
My Mom is awesome. I reiterate, my mom=awesome. Here's a list of why I think she's awesome, updated from years past.
#1 For not giving me Fetal Alcohol Syndome
#2 For knowing my father´s name
#3 For never wringing my neck in spite of her repeated threats
#4 For having taught me that being racist is a bad thing
#5 For teaching me to say "sir" and "ma'am" after I say "yes" or "no
#6 For dropping out of college for 19 years to raise me
#7 For giving me an oatmeal bath when I was 16 & delirious from a chicken pox 104.7F fever.
#8 For letting my kids call her "Lala" instead of "grandma"
#9 For being an artist and not caring what others think about her
#10 For never saying anything negative about my wife. Ever.
#11 For being there with me when Dad died.
#12 For never making me post bond to get her out of jail
#13 For letting me go to Canada with my best friend for the Summer when I was 16
#14 For drawing a huge picture of my daughter and me at Mardi Gras 2004
#15 For Keeping my cat Paisley alive for 17 long years
#16 For that big scar across her belly where they excavated me from her blessed womb
#17 For calling me "Mac". I have a great nickname
#18 For teaching me to read before I went to public school
#19 For letting me fail on occasion
#20 For telling me I should be an organ donor
#21 For being Southern
and the most important thing is:
#22 THANK YOU FOR NOT HOMESCHOOLING ME! This one should be self-explanatory.
And I'd like to add a few more:
#1 For dressing up like a chicken with elaborately-made, beautiful papier-mache wings for the church talent show, running around the stage to some famous piece of classical music while she squawked, and at the very end, laying an egg. THIS WAS BEFORE BJORK WORE THIS DRESS TO THE OSCARS:
#2 For coming out of a gas station in Savannah GA and, upon realizing that my Dad was the person blasting Jimi Hendrix, head banging completely seriously all the way to the car.
#3 For telling my girlfriends in high school not to worry about being fat because "when you get in bed, all they care about is that you're a woman."
#4 For not cutting her hair short and not letting me do it either...ever.
#5 For taking me to Walgreens and buying me a hand vacuum and face lotion and light bulbs and other things I thought I didn't need because they were symptoms of bourgeois excess. For snapping me out of hyper-political self-denial phase.
#6 For knowing more about technology than I do. For sending me my first text message. For having an iPod years before me.
#7 For giving me her copy of Joni Mitchell's Blue as an adult even after I made fun of Joni through my whole adolescence
#8 For spending more money at the arcade when I brought my friend along whose family was poor
#9 For liking "british crap" or 19th century novels made into movies
#10 For listening to Alanis Morrissette's SECOND album for an entire day when I drove back from Utah to Georgia. Not even her first album, THE SECOND ALBUM!
#11 For letting me rub her feet once
#12 For going to the dollar movie with me in 1990 to see some movie I don't even remember and then walking out and, on a whim, walking back in to see Edward Scissorhands.
#13 For driving me half an hour to and from work five times a week at Whitewater when I was 15.
#14 For being nice to all my boyfriends.
#15 For beginning the birds and bees talk by saying "Have you ever seen two dolphins swimming side by side?"
#16 For never wearing swishy suits, jeweled sweaters, or gold shoes.
#17 For building fires for years and years and years
#18 For teaching me how to love people
#19 For watching Beaches with me when I was a little girl and crying and crying and crying.
Nineteen is her lucky number.
[I'll be back in 10 days]
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Most of the random blogs are in other languages. Of the ones in English, about half of them are family-oriented, like for only your family to read. I like the ones that, like mine, don't really know what is going on and just write random shit.
Here are three that I found today that I thought were insanely interesting. I'd like to give a disclaimer that, unless you're the kind of person who will run across traffic to pick up a soggy page of a 13-year-old girl's diary and enjoy reading it, these pages might be really boring. If we're like-minded, I welcome you wholeheartedly.
This one's in French, BUT OH MY GOD THIS BABY IS SO FAT!!! Her parents seem so trim. France is strange.
These people are from my hometown, and they began this blog to chronicle their adoption of a baby from China. As you might know, I tutor a lot of Asian people and I spend a lot of time talking about Korean and Japanese culture, and especially cultural differences. The tone of this blog is really simple; it all reads like the captions in a scrapbook. But what is fascinating is what they assume and what they leave out. Like they off-handedly mention visiting her town so they could learn about her culture and tell her about it. This is an obviously thoughtful and kind action, but how on earth could you tell a child about "her culture" to begin with even if you lived in the place for a year? What makes that her culture if she grows up in a completely different one? Plus, the blog concentrates on the little girl they adopt, but she has a 8 or 9 year old brother who gets these short snippets. At one point, after writing about the little girl for awhile, they say "we can't forget about Evan!" like they have to remind themselves.
Bonus: there's a serious subtext of anxiety about bonding with the adopted child.
The thing is, I totally respect these people. They've put so much of their energy, money, and heart in to doing this. And ultimately I don't really know how valuable it is to be aware of cultural differences in a situation like this. I'm not knocking them, but it is pretty damn interesting. And the SUBTEXTS! GOD!
I don't want to give this away, just read it with a depressed Eyeore voice. I totally lol-ed.
And apparently this blog format is extremely popular. I'm so lazy. Whatevuh.
Thursday, April 03, 2008
Maybe it was that the bar was over-heated
Or maybe it was because I was still sick with a cold
Or maybe it was just that I felt guilty for skipping class
BUT it is possible to get all hot and sweaty while playing ping pong.
ONE THING I AM GRATEFUL FOR:
That cross-cultural onomatopoeia prevailed and "table tennis" is the term for boring Penelopes who have clean white panties and are xenophobic.
MY NEW FAVORITE SENTENCE:
I like turning my head to the side and showing a coy smile while I imitate my former Chinese students when I asked them what their favorite sport was. (You must draw the term out and lay on your best old-Chinese-lady accent.)
"I like a game of ping pong."
It sounds like it's straight from a Berlitz travel tape.
Monday, March 31, 2008
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Seven years ago, at my grandma's funeral, after we'd had the graveside service and they were going to lower her body into the ground, my Dad stood on the plot next to it, shook the ground like you do when you're testing the stability of a platform and told my brother "We'll bury grandpa here someday!" My Dad was perfectly irreverent and damn wrong.
Having people die is not at all what you expect. It's not as bad as you think it's going to be. I always thought that if someone close to me died, I'd tear my hair out, sit in my own shit, and not be able to get out of bed for months. It's not like that. Grief is so different than depression, and I've been fucking crazy depressed in my life. Grief can make you depressed, but alone it's its own thing. It makes you talk intimately with strangers, especially if you've been drinking. You all of the sudden don't care about stupid shit, like whether or not you look nice when you go to the grocery store. You lose your filter for what is appropriate to say to people and what is not. You forget that just mentioning something that has become commonplace to you, like your Dad's brain being flown to Ohio on Halloween, is not funny to other people. You feel guilty for not tearing your hair out, not sitting in your own shit, and getting out of bed everyday. It's like you wake up and the first thing you think is, "something is horribly wrong" but when you realize what it is, you remember "Oh right, I can deal with this." Grief can be very beautiful. It's intense, but it's real, and it comes from love. Being depressed is not real. Having a terrible breakup is a selfish hurt. Grief is totally selfless. At least in my experience. That said, I really really wish my Dad was still here. It fucking sucks.
My grandpa was old, but it still sucks too. I wouldn't have wanted to keep him here though. Living in a nursing home is just as bad even if they call it "assisted living." Bless his heart. Bless his sweet heart. I miss him.
So I wanted to share something with y'all that I think perfectly embodies my grandpa's character. Ten years ago, my mother finally convinced grandma and grandpa to move down to Atlanta from Asheville, NC. When she was helping them move, she found the equivalent of eight garbage bags full of Publisher's Clearing House contest mail. If you don't already know this, these guys are mother-fucking asshole cocksuckers who prey on poor old seniors who don't read the fine print. He owed them something like $600, but he didn't know it, because he was starting to lose his sharpness. My grandpa, like many men his age from where he's from, really believed in God and America and capitalism. He had an undying faith in the high quality of Dinty Moore Beef Stew. It was "the finest canned soup this side of the Mississippi." He believed what he read in Reader's Digest and saw on the news. And Publisher's Clearing House exploited this to the utmost absurdity. I'm sure these people have horrible sex lives and kill puppies when they're not at work. My mother finally convinced him to abandon his hope of winning the grand prize, but grandpa decided he should write them a letter first. My Mom never sent the letter, and I have it. This is it, written on a piece of paper from a pink legal tablet in his shakey, beautiful, nearly illegible cursive:
April 7, 1998
To: Mr. R. H. Truller:
Please withdraw my name from the competition from Giveaway #555 due to medical problems within and without.
I consider myself unable to comply with P.C.H. rules that if I accept the gift I accept the IHC agreement to help P.C.H. with their advertisement for one year.
I must pay off any credit for which I am responsible. I will contact billing for help.
P.C.H. personel have been wonderful to me of which I am deeply grateful.
It would be a fraud to wait until the last minute to let you know.
I value my self respect and integrity above everything else. (my hands tire easy.)
I am not stoping everything.
Raymond V. Buckner
P.S. Thank You All.
Someday I'll write about all the stories he told me when I lived with him. Until then, if you're interested, my brother has told his own version of grandpa's life on his blog, so if you'd like to read it you can at www.wuapinmon.blogspot.com.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Below is a question taken verbatim from my quiz:
6. The "Spirit of the Law" refers to the ____________________ of the law.
1. Actual wording of the law
2. The ghost manifested when chanting the law
3. Intent or purpose of the law
I was tempted to choose answer choice "2," but then I realized that this wasn't a Dickens novel. Instead it's a piece of text that says things like, "First you have to understand the laws of physics (nature)."
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
* My Mom is notorious for unintentionally saying dirty things in Spanish when she means to say something else. For example, she once told the wife of the Bishop in Costa Rica, "Mi esposo trabaja con computas" but the way she said it (and she said it very loud and in front of the entire family) it sounded like "Mi esposo trabaja con..con putas." For those of you who don't speak Spanish, she was trying to say "My husband works with computers" but instead said "My husband works with pussy."
Her first night here I had her wait in the car in the Mission district (the neighborhood in SF where there are a lot of native Spanish speakers) while I went into El Farolito and got a burrito. As we were leaving she asked me, "Susanna, what's a pusada?" I said, "do you mean pupusa?" and she goes "there's a sign back there for pusadas." But no, Mom had seen the sign for the Salvadorian fried cheese cakes you see on your right and thought "pusada." "Pusada" is not the Spanish dictionary and my brother is unavailable right now, but I just have a gut feeling that it might be the Spanish word for "santorum."
* We did a crossword puzzle on our second day together. The theme was double "k"s and one of the clues was a "well-known soy sauce." The answer was "Kikkoman." The next day I dropped Mom off at SFMOMA while I went to school. We met back up that night and she told me all about taking pictures and getting lost and her amazing lunch. She goes, "Susanna, what's Kikkoman?" I have no idea why (other than that I'm her daughter and speak her crazy language), but I said "do you mean jicama?" And she goes "it's a white vegetable and I had it on my sandwich at lunch and it was so good!" (She meant jicama.)
* Like my Dad, my Mom can talk to anyone about anything at any time. As a kid I hated going to the grocery store with her because she'd either run into someone she knew or just get into a conversation with some total stranger in an aisle and talk to them for 45 minutes. I'm certain this is why I started reading adult women's magazines when I was 10. I'm always shocked when she does this when I'm with her. I'll assume that someone behind a counter is busy or grumpy but my Mom will just start talking all about herself and her vacation in Argentina 13 years ago and how different it is here in SF than in Atlanta and how Wal-Mart hurts the local economy and has bad produce and the person will just listen and then thank her and tell her it was nice to meet her. And I'm fairly certain that they actually mean it.
One night she was looking through her pictures and she just offhandedly says, "these guys today let me take a picture of their feet" like totally normal, like she was just saying "these guys today got on the bus and sat down."
Later on she said, "I figured out how to take pictures of birds. You just put the camera in front of your face and walk toward them and they don't fly away. They don't know you're a person back there if you hide your face."
* Mom has favorite subjects that she revisits every twenty minutes or so. One is the conditions of her digestive system (my Dad nicknamed this the "BBU" or "Buckner Bowel Update"), her knee, and the absence or presence of feeling in her right hand. Another favorite is her old professor, Professor Robbins, who taught one of her art history courses and took her class on a field trip to New York. Mom's favorite trivia question is: "where's my wallet?" and every time she gets out of the car, even if the windows are all rolled down and we're at a remote beach with no other cars around, she says "do you have your keys?" before she locks the door. And she absolutely relishes any opportunity to say "I'm a visual learner."
For example, she told me "Today I asked this lady where something was and she said 'Do you know where the water is?' and I said 'Ma'am, I'm a visual learner and I'm so confused out here. I think I'm in Florida. The ocean is just on the wrong side.'"
* I made Mom promise not to say anything about love, marriage, or babies or any of my ex-boyfriends when she met the nice young man I've been seeing. It's one thing if she starts going on to me about how great of a mother I'll be and how I just need to find the right man who wants the same things I want, etc. (she ignores me when I say things like "I might not have kids" or "I'm in no hurry to get married" or "I just started seeing him"), but if I'm with someone and she starts asking what we're going to name our kids I kind of freak out.
We went down to Big Sur and we went out to dinner with Eric and a few of his friends. There were eight of us, and Mom was sitting at the far end of the table, at the head. The conversation went like this:
"So are they a couple down at the end?" she says
"Yes" I said
"What about them?" she said, pointing to the guy and girl sitting in the middle
"I don't know" I said
"Yes" Eric said
"So..are, like, y'all a couple?" she says
(Gee, Thanks Mom!!!) Luckily, Eric goes, "Well, I was thinking about asking her to prom."
So then Mom explained how pretty I looked at my prom and how my dress was dark blue and the sequins came up like this in the front and it came down like this in the back and how much happier I would have been if I had gone with him instead of the other guys.
Her flight takes off in ten minutes, and I may see her again very soon (my grandpa isn't doing too well), but I miss her so much already. My Mom's heart is huge. She smart and humble. She's oblivious but so deeply intuitive that she's almost keen. What a winner. I'm so fucking lucky to be her daughter. And so fucking lucky to be able to say "fuck" again now that she's gone.
(Read the title and sing the song!)
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Valentine's Day is a creation of the flower-candy-Hallmark industry, but fuck them! I say let's subvert it! If it's all around us anyway, then let's make it a day not to feel guilted into buying stupid shit for our friends, family, and loved ones (like, say, oh Christmas) but a day to celebrate Romantic Love.
I love love! I love you!
My favorite part of Valentine's Day is seeing macho, tough guys on the BART train carrying around big ole' teddy bears that say "You're cuddly" or something else retarded.
Love and sex are great equalizers. (Almost) everybody wants it and when we get it, we get all mushy and soft. We listen to Celine Dion and we think, "Wow, she's really on to something."
But then there's the nasty side of Valentine's Day, when the heart-broken and the lonely-hearted get pissy and jealous and decry the whole stupid holiday. Bless their hearts. I've been broken hearted on V-day before--last year, as a matter of fact, but I managed to keep up my good spirits until about 10 o'clock, and then I just went to sleep. And maybe, maybe, I held a private pity party in my honor, but that's really none of your business.
One way I've celebrated Valentine's Day in the past is putting a little red table out on the street and giving Love Advice for 25 cents. I bring all my favorite poetry books, ask folks about their problems or situations, and then read them a poem that relates to their situation. The first year I did it, 2003, I made $28. I gave advice to a police officer, a former heroin junkie with a tattoo of his forever love, Lola, who had died of an overdose, a bell man who had finally, after a year of peeking in the window of the shop window next to his hotel, asked out the woman whom he had a crush on (for that night!), a couple who had bought a new car and sold the wife's old car that she missed (I suggested the have sex in the new car so she'd have fond memories of it), and a young woman whose boyfriend had just begun to be mildly psychotic (as in, bat-shit-crazy). There were many more. And two people brought me chocolates in addition to their shiny quarters.
I did Love Advice several more times, but, like crack, it was never as good at the first time. What was so wonderful about it initially was that it was completely spontaneous and none of my friends were "supporting" me; it had nothing to do with my identity. Now when I do it, I feel like "this is something I do" and it just rings false. That's why I'm not doing it this year. Instead, I would like to just share with you here three of the poems I read most often.
Poetry is infinitely more therapeutic than the best psychiatrist. That is, if your heart is open enough to hear it. (And I suppose a good psychiatrist could help you get there).
The first is the one I read most often:
I have perceiv’d that to be with those I like is enough,
To stop in company with the rest at evening is enough,
To be surrounded by beautiful, curious, breathing, laughing flesh is enough,
To pass among them or touch any one, or rest my arm ever so lightly round his or her neck for a moment, what is this then?
I do not ask any more delight, I swim in it as in a sea.
There is something in staying close to men and women and looking on them, and in the contact and odour of them, that pleases the soul well,
All things please the soul, but these please the soul well.
--Walt Whitman, from Leaves of Grass "Children of Adam: 4"
The next one is keen:
Because we were friends and sometimes loved each other,
perhaps to add one more tie
to the many that already bound us,
we decided to play games of the mind.
We set up a board between us;
equally divided into pieces, values,
and possible moves.
We learned the rules, we swore to respect them,
and the match began.
We've been sitting here for centuries, meditating
how to deal the one last blow that will finally
annihilate the other one forever.
by Rosario Castellanos
The following is copied verbatim from my zine Here Are Some Poems I Like. I annotated this one, because it seems so simple on the surface:
This Is Just To Say
I have eaten
that were in
you were probably
they were delicious
and so cold.
The love poems that hit you hard are the ones that are often not about love. This poem is like that to me. I think it may be the most romantic poem ever.
I have eaten the plums that were in the icebox
Back in 1934, people had iceboxes instead of refrigerators. The poem begins with a confession; he just comes right out and says “it was me!” He is confessing his sin. The plums tempted him and he succumbed.
and which you were probably saving for breakfast
Who is he talking to? I think it’s his wife. This being 1934, she is most likely the person who puts plums in the icebox for breakfast. Breakfast isn’t usually a meal where you invite company. She put the plums in there for both of them, for their breakfast. She saved them for both of them to eat them together. They weren’t saved for her breakfast, just “breakfast.”
However, he doesn’t know for sure that she was saving them for breakfast. He says “probably.” Read the line without “probably.” It kind of makes him sound like an asshole. It makes his sin greater. However, the small space that may exist, where he may not have committed a sin (she may not have been saving them for breakfast) permits him to have done it.
Forgive me they were delicious
He asks her to forgive him by telling her how much he enjoyed them. He assumes that she will forgive him because he enjoyed them so much. Darling, I couldn’t help myself.
This line is the only capitalized line in the poem.
so sweet and so cold
A perfect plum. A passionate, dark fruit. Sweet by nature, cold because she put them in the icebox.
The way I’m explaining this, you might think that this poem were some sort of code poem for a man committing adultery. “Forgive me, she was delicious.” After all, this poem is literally about forbidden fruit. However, it’s not that. The plums are irresistible because they are “so sweet” but also “so cold.” They are “so cold” only because she put them in the icebox. She put them there for both of them, as an act of love, to please herself and to please him. It pleased him so much he couldn’t help himself. She might take pleasure in knowing how to please him, in pleasing him so much he acts irrationally. He knows that she will forgive him, that’s why he comes out in the first line and just says how it is. Instead of justifying it in the most logical way, the way that most people would, the way that she would have to forgive him, by saying “I was very hungry” or “I didn’t know that you were saving them,” he admits the truth and justifies his indulgence by describing the temptation that she created just by doing what she liked to do. It’s a sort of reversal of Adam and Eve. She creates a temptation for him; he indulges and the consequences are benign and ultimately inconsequential. However the fruit and this situation serve to illuminate the nuances of their relationship.
There is so much understanding between the two of them that he writes a poem celebrating his temptation and her forgiveness. It is all so safe and benign but simultaneously passionate and intense. It’s their illusion that they play together.
How sexy is that?
Have a Lovely Day!
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Finally, finally, the weather has relented and there have been several beautiful days in succession. Yesterday I read Saussaure, Propp, and Roman Jacobson on a cliff overlooking the ocean. Then I went on a walk that blew my mind. I will take pictures next time I go and post them. I'm so SO happy I moved here. For a high-strung girl, nature is the perfect counterbalance.
After my brief 2-day Bjork obsession, I decided that I should wear my hair in twin buns a la Princess Leia, but on top of my head, a la Bjork. I think this hairstyle unconsciously causes me to be kind toward other people. Maybe it's all the bouncing. It probably also has something to do with the nice weather and the exercise, but I still hold with the bouncing.
This is my favorite song to listen to right now:
Thursday, February 07, 2008
As I was driving, I listened to a very old tape I made of Bjork's Post. This is the only album of hers that I know. When we got cable, and therefore MTV, when I was a kid, I was absolutely mesmerized by her music video for the song "Human Behaviour."
I realized after I looked this up that the video was made in 1993, so I wasn't a kid; I was 13. But anyways, the thing that blew my mind above all were those little sequins under her eyes. I was like, "Wow! You can do that?"
So driving today and listening to Post made me remember that that just because you are very very good at something, or even the best at something, does not mean that what you produce is the best. Think about classically trained musicians who make solo albums. I would much rather listen to Iggy Pop, you know?
Just because I don't understand Kant on my first reading does not mean that I am a terrible person who has no redeeming social value.
I think I have been taking myself way too seriously.
The point of going to school is because I enjoy it, not because I want to be sculpted into some perfect academic who can hold her own in a theory class. I bet Bjork didn't or wouldn't understand Kant on her first reading either, and I think she's absolutely, imperfectly brilliant.
The reason why is that my teacher also assigned Aristotle and Plato. This is a theory class, and she wanted to give us a working background to begin our quasi-history of literary criticism. Rather than just regurgitate the information that she gives us, she wants us to engage with the criticism and debate it in class.
This guy in our class, let me tell you about him. Normally, I like to talk to the people in class who say things I agree with. Call me elitist, but really it's just a case of wanting to talk more about ideas that are interesting. More generally, however, I like to talk to people who are outgoing and have strong opinions. Unless they're idiots. I, of course, am an idiot, so I really shouldn't be judging others, but I do. At least I'm honest. So there is this guy in our class who seemed to be very composed and articulate and have strong opinions. I figured we would like each other (not like that).
But then I noticed that he held the door open for me when I came in. When he referred to what other people were saying he said, "this young lady." This guy may have a few fine lines around his eyes, but he's really not old enough, or rather of the generation, to refer to women as "this young lady." I also noticed that he was very impatient with our professor, who also has a few fine lines around her eyes but talks like a smart, over-enthusiastic, slightly spastic valley girl. I got the gut feeling that he was dismissing her.
There is another man in our class who was in my T.S. Eliot seminar last semester. He's old, like gray hair, WRINKLEY, either bordering on senility or of a different time when one expressed one's thoughts differently. I think I'm being too nice. He essentially dismissed all biographical reading of T.S. Eliot without good cause. Last semester, the cool, smart guys all agreed with him. This conversation deeply bothered me, but I couldn't put my finger on it.
Tonight the first guy disagreed with my teacher's proposition. She was arguing that one could relate Plato's metaphor of the cave to our current situation in Iraq. I raised my hand and argued that, like Plato, we are recreating a situation that positions us as the heroes of a contrived situation. Blah blah blah, right? The rest of the class did not respond to what I said. Then the old guy said he didn't like what she had said. The first guy agreed with her, calling it "anachronistic." Unlike my teacher last semester, this women argued outrightly and challenged him to prove his argument. I sat quiet. He fumbled on a minute point and she essentially shamed him. It was really tense. He responded to her very sarcastically at one point.
After the break, he didn't come back. I bet he'll like write a letter to the dean or something about how she's unprofessional. I was just happy to see him put in his place. And why? You know? It's not like she was right. She really did handle the situation poorly. If I were him, I would have probably gone outside and cried a little bit.
But I guess why I'm writing this (besides the fact that my brain really is fried and I must not be using my best judgment) is that I'm disturbed by this really subtle, almost unnoticeable sexism that exists.
But that is problematic, and I may be wrong. Because after he left, another woman sort of took his place. I said something about plot versus character and how I am one of those people who believe that whether or not something is fiction or non-fiction matters, and she looked at disapprovingly.
What disturbs me most is that I care. This really fucking disturbs me. I want so badly to succeed at what I am doing. I want to "get it" and I want to be able to articulate what I feel and think, and be able to support it. I understand that I am in grad school in order to be able to do this, and I can't expect myself to be perfect, but it fucking bums me out to not be heard and to not be understood. When I say things, I feel like people think I am a dumb girl. I know I am not a dumb girl. But why do I come off that way?
I think I am just venting. I remember feeling this way at the beginning of my T.S. Eliot class last semester. I think the best paper I wrote last semester was that paper, too. I think this is all just a part of the process. It's gnarly, though, to see sexism and elitism in person. I am not above these people, however. I'm certain--absolutely certain--that I am sexist and elitist myself. It just sucks, and I don't know how to get around it. I am sure, however, that I will.
If you've read this far, god bless you. Amen
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Then he asked, just rhetorically, what the modern day equivalent of this would be. One of the women in my class said, "Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction at the Super Bowl."
Oh yes, it is SO good to be among my like kind.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
In my classes, I'm always amazed at how geeky, socially awkward folks may not be able to introduce themselves very well but have poignant analyses of A Christmas Carol. This is the joy of being an English major. I wonder if Computer Science majors have the same joy. I've heard that those folks are just annoying all the way around, but this is mere hearsay.
I did want to share this uncanny experience that happened to me last weekend. Since I'm horribly out of shape too, I decided to go on a long walk in my beautiful little town of Moss Beach. My landlord told me about a great walk along the crest of the hills that border the ocean. Here is a photograph:
So I walked and walked hoping to find a nice, dry place to sit down and read A Christmas Carol for my Victorian Afterlife class. Near the end of the trail, I saw this bench, which overlooked a beach where a few people who managed to teeter down the steep cliff were surfing.
Not a bad place to do some homework, eh? I decided I'd sit on the bench and read a few chapters about Ebeneezer Scrooge's transformation from a stingy, cold miser into a philanthropic, jolly, Christmas-ian with goose drippings on his chin. As you may remember, this change is engendered by his visits by three ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future. However, these ghosts are preceded by a visit from the grave from his old business partner, Jacob Marley.
So I went to sit down and this is what I saw:
Can you believe it?!?
(By the way, the title of this post is a quote from A Christmas Carol.)
Thursday, January 10, 2008
My semester is officially finished. I just clicked "send" on the last of my papers. This last one was a doozy. At one point I compare Othello to a woman on her menstrual cycle. Oh, I'm not kidding. At least it was in the footnotes. Twenty-two pages of me trying to prove that Iago is the most honest character and Desdemona is a hussy.
Boy am I thirsty.
Hey, did you know that the term "the beast with two backs" is from Othello?
Monday, January 07, 2008
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
My New Year's Resolutions for 2007 were:
1. Learn to play Leonard Cohen songs on the guitar
2. Save $1000
3. Study Korean or Spanish
4. Go to Hawaii
Here's how they panned out:
1. LC songs
After learning "Lady Midnight," "Famous Blue Raincoat," and "Take This Longing," I spent the rest of the year trying to train my left index finger to bar the F chord. What a bitch. I love Leonard Cohen and it's comforting to play these songs. It's especially nice to be able to play a song that's slightly more difficult than what I've been playing. I used to play everyday, but since I started grad school, I don't really have time to do that anymore. However, I did write two new songs this year, and I'm very happy about that. For about four years, I couldn't write a song and it was starting to drive me nuts.
2. Save $1000
For someone my age, $1000 isn't really enough savings. However, I'm notoriously terrible with money and I figured I'd start somewhere. I just wanted to have enough to be able to fix my car if something broke or pay my rent if I lost my job. I did save the money, but it about killed me. I kept it in an envelope on my desk (if it were in the bank, I'd spend it), and whenever I'd hit another hundred, I'd cross off another number. I kept having to take money out and put it back, whiting-out my progress and marking it up again. It really shouldn't have been so hard, because I was earning more than enough to live on.
However, when I realized I might be able to move to the ocean, I got my ass in gear and kept track of every penny I spent for an entire month. I realized that almost a fourth of my income was going to taking other people out to eat. I curbed that I re-budgeted and managed to save a bit more. This money came in handy when my Dad died. I had enough money to cover my plane ticket and the income lost when I didn't work.
3. Study Korean or Spanish
I ended up devoting the summer to studying Korean. I was working at the Korean center and everyday during lunch I would sit next to someone and ask them questions. I also had two private Korean students, so before and after our lessons, I'd ask them questions. I didn't learn basic stuff; I still can't say "I'm hungry" or even have a basic conversation. However, I can pretty much read the language out loud (though I don't know what I'm reading) and I can write too. When I lived in Oakland, I lived near the Korean section, and I spent a large portion of the summer walking around. I'd try to read out the Korean signs. One day I realized that one of the signs I saw everyday said "Karaoke." That was pretty cool.
I thought I might go teach English in Korea this Summer to help pay off part of my student loans. Also, as a part of earning a PhD, you have to study two other languages. I thought it'd be pretty cool to study Korean, since I love what little I know of the culture so much. However, I talked with some professors about this, and although apparently there are a lot of Korean scholars who write about modernism, ultimately romance languages are the way to go. So next semester I'm doing an advanced Spanish grammar review and I think I'm going to go to Chile this summer to teach English.
4. Go to Hawaii
Well I saved up enough money to go (in a separate envelope from my basic savings). I researched the trip and budgeted it and everything. I knew I wouldn't be able to go in 2007, but I was pretty sure I could swing it during the winter break in January. Then my Dad died and everything went all to hell. I deposited the last of that money in the ATM yesterday to pay my January rent. Even though I didn't get to go to Hawaii, I'm very glad I had saved that money.
However, I did get a fortune cookie last week that I shared with my grandmother, Nanny. It said "You will be crossing warm waters soon for a fun vacation." And there's a likely possibility that I'll be going on a road trip in the next few weeks down South of the border and swimming at Rosarita beach. We'll see.
So not bad for these New Year's Resolutions. There were other things I wanted to get done this year, like quitting smoking and making straight A's, but I didn't make them into New Year's Resolutions because I don't like being an over-controlling bitch with myself. I figured they'd be extras. I did manage to quit smoking and it was for good, but I claimed at the time "I quit, and I've really quit, but I just know that if something bad happened to someone in my family, I'd start again." When my Dad went into the ICU, I went to the corner store. Smoking is retarded, but for some reason it's one of the only ways I know how to get through difficult times.
I had to take an incomplete in one of my classes, but I did make A's in the other two. Not A minuses, A's, and I'm beaming.
My New Year's Resolutions for 2008:
1. Write an individual letter to 50 different people I don't see enough
2. Go kayaking (preferably in the SF Bay at night)
3. Go teach English someplace awesome this Summer
4. Scatter my Dad's ashes into the Pacific Ocean off the old helicopter landing pad in the Marin Headlands
There are other things I would like to do too, like figure out how to do yoga and be a grad student, make straight A's, and yes, quit smoking, but we'll just have to see how that all pans out.
2007 was equally as good as it was shitty. I'm too shy to tell you ALL of the good and bad things that happened to me, but life is certainly dramatically different than it was a year ago. And for some strange reason, It's so much easier just to wake up and move through life than it ever has been. I'm constantly grateful for that.
- ▼ December (4)
- ► September (7)
- ► February (10)
- ► 2007 (43)