1.30.2003

State of the Empire
It's strange how Tolkien-esque our political rhetoric sounds lately. Oh, maybe it's not "I slew my enemy and smite his body upon the mountain" but still, what does "In the ruins of two towers, on the western wall of the Pentagon, and in a field in Pennsylvania, we committed to waging war..." remind you of? I heard a German journalist on NPR commenting on the odd rhetoric Bush spewed forth on Tuesday about a God-blessed land with a destiny to protect and rule. She said it sounded like Americans thought that there was no possible way that we could be wrong, that we were acting as though guided by a divine hand. She said the Germans didn't like that. I don't either.
**
I began painting my desk last night. I have the perfect sky blue for the tops and sides, the perfect bright creamy orange for the curly-ques and curvy legs, but the brick red looks out of place. It's a mild crisis.
**
Now that I'm indoor-biking every other day, I have a new range of little problems. Mostly, I'm hungry all the time. I think I am going to have to go make popcorn, despite the fact that it is only 10:30 in the morning. Also, my quads hurt. And I get mysterious backaches that seem surprisingly painful. But on the flip side, I feel better than ever!
**
Ayyy-yiiiiiiii! Tom Tomorrow has a blog!
**

1.28.2003

PUNKBOWL 2003
Maybe I'm a sucker for thinking that the halftime show at the Superbowl means anything to anyone, but I have to admit to being psyched to see Gwen Stefani of No Doubt kicking Shania Twain's ass so hard. Sure, the people I was watching the show with groaned about her off-key notes, but I suspected the hostility towards her was a little more deeply rooted than that, as always. Courtney Love, for instance, is routinely dismissed as too loud, too provocative, and just way too punk to be taken seriously as an artist or as a political figure. But she's always had a serious message: women have power when they catch men off guard. Last Sunday, Gwen got to deliver that message. At the Superbowl.

First, good old Shanni Twain gets up on stage in a bizarro "sexy" witch outfit, clearly designed only for men to look at since it actually physically prevents her from walking. Or is that little handicap due to her thigh-high boots with six-inch heels? She lip-synchs to her own recording. The whole thing is so stale that it is kind of mesmerizing. I am mildly fascinated that the principal message of her song is that "the best thing about being a woman...is the prerogative to have a good time." What an odd topic for the Superbowl. Or am I just being sexist? Her fundamental message is that girls just want to have fun. In restrictive outfits. Then Gwen Stefani gets up on the middle of the stage and starts doing push-ups (and not girl push-ups, either). It's a wonderful sight to see. She's in black cargo pants and a glittery silver tank top. Her hair is retro: 1940s platinum blonde, post-WWII, waved along her shoulders and matched to strong red lipstick. In her punk rock boots, she starts leaping around the stage. What's her song about? She tears into being forced into "girlhood": "Take this pink ribbon off my eyes/ I'm exposed/ And it's no big surprise/ Don't you think I know/ Exactly where I stand/ This world is forcing me/ To hold your hand." Punk cheerleaders rush the stage, looking sexy and angry and interesting.

When Sting gets up to sing the finale, Gwen joins him, still noticeably out of breath from her (live) performance. I liked that he included her instead of taking the stage for himself; I'm glad he didn't include Shania Twain, who was just a body and a recorded voice. It means something to share the stage with a woman like Gwen Stefani; it means that you understand the power of a hundred thousand people or more sitting in the stands, and millions watching on TV. It means you understand that two women sang about womanhood, but it was a man who was asked to close the show. It means you understand that jock culture (and academic culture, unfortunately) will never openly endorse a woman like Stefani, who takes a man's sexual projection and throws it back in his face, twisting it along to way to make it her own. Sting endorsed her, and that meant something. People can criticize Stefani all they want (and they will), but I could scarcely believe my eyes when I was watching the halftime show, and looking back, I still can't believe that there was a punk-rock girl with a real message somewhere in Superbowl 2003, who really didn't give a fuck about seduction or perfection. It gives me hope for the little girls of the next generation, and for me, too.


1.20.2003

Meditations on Watertown
*
The Armenian funerals: black hats with brims for the men, like an Orthodox Jew might wear
long black coats in the wind and black ties at neck
hand on car door, holding out for a woman's arrival
they cluster on the sidewalk, looking sadly down the street into the morning's river of traffic
*
Fill her up with regular, I ask the nice man at the sunoco station, and though
it's only 27 degrees, I leave my window down. The sunlit air is filled with the smell of cinnamon doughnuts and hot chocolate,
thrust through the huge steamers at the Deluxe Town Diner.
On Saturday, we sat and dined
amongst our people, the people of Watertown,
while our laundry ran its wet course across the street,
and the waitress brought our eggs with a smile and I notice she seems more confident
than she did in the early fall and her english is better too
and meanwhile the kitten ran through the apartment with muddy paws.
We work on the home as a team, finally hanging the Rothko in the kitchen.
*
on a cold afternoon,
the lock on your door breaks
and after professional expectations break
you find your communication breaks,
seeking a release for your anxiety, you question your faith in love, your bound commitment, your gratitude,
searching fruitlessly for the hairline fracture in your relationship no engagement ring could
ever fix.
*

1.17.2003

PLUS, plus, [we all] lost the Eldred case.
Aw Man!
What a week! First I find out my spring teaching gig is down the tubes, and it's not even for a reason you can be too frustrated about---my professor has an immediate family member with cancer and in worsening condition, so she felt compelled to cancel the course. Who can blame her? But I had strung up this tree with beautiful hopes, all twinkling brightly in the deep branches of my future. So to speak. And THEN, today, just as I had finally accepted that I wasn't teaching and tried to move on, I was double-checking my web portfolio site and found out that the site I spent two years building for the K-school has been reverted to some text-only slum smacked together by a lackey in career services. Figures! But still, why? You have to question your professional ability if your previous employer neatly disposes of your blood, sweat and tears after your departure. It all seems odd. Especially because...well....it was pretty! And now it sucks!

1.09.2003

Walking into the Light
Sometimes I hesitate to write in this blog for fear that it will just become one big love story. But somehow, in the past few weeks, a door opened, except sometimes it feels more like an escape hatch. Sometimes the place where I come from seems dark, but the place where I am going always seems good. I'm going there with someone straight and clear, and true, and it makes all the difference. This is me recovering from the holidays, and skidding into another January surprised at what being in love feels like.

1.08.2003

There's an amazing article in the NYTimes on a terrible, dangerous workplace in Tyler, TX. A pipe-making plant that seems to eat people alive, or at the least, swallow their limbs. And all for $10 an hour. Gives one some perspective.

1.07.2003

Neurobaby
I'm not going to link to William Gibson's new blog like every other blogger, but I promise I will if he writes something good. I've found some good articles on online dating, though, my current pop-cult fascination.

I had one of those deliriously relaxing weekends with Muffin, where we lay around and cooked good food and watched good movies and went to a bunch of pet stores to get our respective pet fixes. He likes to look at the ferrets and the fish, but I like the puppies. I found a baby pug in one store and I held him and kissed him until I was completely in love (it took about 35 seconds). As I age, I find that I am more deeply relaxed by baby animals and baby humans than ever before. My neck and shoulders soften, my entire back relaxes, and the tension in the pit of my stomach or heart, the same tension that usually drives me to write and work out, seems to vanish. That pug's face was so squishy that I could barely get through my workout on Sunday. It just made me too long-term happy. This worries me mildly; surely there will be a time in my life during which I am drenched in babies and puppies. Will I get nothing done?

1.06.2003

Anatomy
Six men in black jumpsuits, each wielding a black shovel, leap from truck top to truck top. There is a small ocean of 18-wheelers in the lot, and moving together, the men shove snow off the side of each truck, wading ankle-deep down the length of the container. No one falls to the ground. A new truck lumbers into the lot, carrying the faded trademark "Sealed Air Corporation" visible in white on white on the broadside. It carries snow ready to be shoveled off the top. This morning, brushing snow off my own car, I didn't climb onto the top, but the noisy black crows cawed at me from low-hanging branches until I could see the bones of my car again.

1.03.2003

Storm System
The massive storm outside my window reads pink and gray on weather.com's doppler radar, I think for snow and ice. Right before it hit, two big white Atlantic seagulls circled the building, but stories above the trees, like a pair of foreign messengers, distant and unusual. Something was happening. Now in the white fog there are big dark shapes of evergreens across the street. The eighteen-wheelers below are covered in snow.

Having a couple of weeks off leaves me listless and uninterested in work. Although...now that I think about it, I have kind of a chronic problem with that in this job. I can barely stand to sit in one chair for this long, and so I end up getting absorbed in sites like the couples page on losers.org---still freaked out by benandstephanie.com. Those pictures of the children aren't Ben and Stephanie's---they are Ben and Stephanie AS CHILDREN. I can't even go so far as to link to ourbeautifullove.com, but "Michael and I met in a Christian chat room on January 31st, 1999..." is how most of them start, and usually they end in marriage. Sordid stuff.

Fortunately I get time off for good behavior, and am leaving and hour and a half early this afternoon (the weather!).