Wednesday, April 30, 2003
that mean old levee
taught me to weep and moan
tomorrow night is last short story class. put an ad up in that bitch. i don't know what that means. i'm still kicking? i like the way it sounds. i'm doing my last web design job. i swear. goddamn. really. it's not the money. it's all the stuff. there are stories to be written. great magnificent opuses that tell you what it is to never have lived a life. or to have lived a life. to have put an ad up in that bitch.
crying won't help you
praying won't do you no good
the other night, my mom told me this story about being in graduate school up in north texas. she was getting her master's in english. imagine that. they had some friends called the cashners. my dad worked with tom cashner. a real cowboy my dad would say. he was a real cowboy. a good old guy. one time my mom babysat for the cashners. they had a son named colt. colt cashner. now if that's not a name to wrap a story around. "he was a real brat," my mom said. "always screaming and crying and throwing fits." during one of these fits, my mom shut him up by throwing a whole cup of water on him. "shut him up good," she said. poor colt. he cried and whined to his parents when they got home, but my mom, the graduate student, lied to them and said it had only been a sprinkle of water. "they never asked me to babysit again," she said. "fine by me."
all last night
sat on the levee and moaned
not soon after, my dad was diagnosed with a rare liver disease, sarcoidosis. they thought he had cancer. he quit his job and they moved back to houston. my mom had finished her thesis, "the effects of freshmen english on college education." i asked her what those effects were. "none," she said. "oh, i don't remember." apparently graduate programs haven't changed that much. so, my dad quit and they never saw the cashners again. still, he'd often refer back to those days in a fond way, looking off into the distance, perhaps trying to catch a glimpse of tom cashner. "they were grand, son," he'd say. "just grand old days." everything changed after that, after the liver spots. or maybe nothing changed. maybe it was all pre-ordained to happen, the endless string of jobs, the fights, the separations and returns, the eating disorders, the discoveries and rediscoveries and impulsions and finally, the leaving. always the leaving. maybe the worm had turned long before his disease. maybe it always does. eventually, the sarcodoisis retreated, in what should have been a miracle, i suppose. but such a small miracle. how does one notice such small things? it takes eyes. anyway, this was all before they had me. when life was grand and strange and new.
all last night
sat on the levee and moaned
thinking 'bout my baby
and my happy home
Sunday, April 27, 2003
do you ever feel like you don't agree with any of the sides that are presuming to speak for everyone concerning this dixie chick issue? oops. i meant this war issue. maybe the two sides do account for most of the population. if so, count me out altogether. i've heard people say they think it's stupid and then rattle off the list of hick atrocities perpetrated against these poor war activist entertainers. then i've heard others say they think it's stupid and call them hollywood elitists. i think it's stupid that these three are being singled out for what amounts to the standard hollywood line (which is also stupid). bush is embarrasing to us. we don't agree with him even though we're american. yeah, i got that the first 2,000 times i heard it. i think it was right after the election when everyone was bickering about how gore really won florida. nobody knows who won, but that's obviously not the point. bush didn't win, etc. he's not our president. so why does the dixie chick's saying this matter when it's been the liberal lip service speech for nearly two years? and why is it a free speech issue when they were allowed to say it? it's not like the radio stations or the hicks with bulldozers are stopping them from appearing on diane sawyer and non-apologizing all over again. has bush told them to shut up? i can't agree with any of it. the dixie chicks are stupid entertainers who'll say whatever is crowd pleasing. the country yokels who hurl insults and ban their records are stupid if they think they're not simply fueling the fire. the anti-war protestors who pretend to align themselves with the chicks b/c they think these three airheads represent "middle america" are false and simply struggling to maintain some sort of relevance. they'll take whatever hype they can stir. look at america's sweethearts now! ha! diane sawyer? stupid. bush? stupid. pearl jam? fucking idiotic. posing naked? nice, but confusing. the whole tired event including my dumb rant? retarded.
yesterday, we went to a b-day party for one of our nephews. this one is lonanne's brother's kid. it was in bruceville-eddy. yes, that's the name of the town. it used to be two separate towns, but they had to pull together, times being what they are. it's about an hour and a half outside austin. lonanne wasn't feeling well. allergies. maybe i should take more note of when she is feeling well. still, the kids had a good time. they punched a pinata and blew bubbles and squabbled over cake, all to their hearts content. then we came back and i did the 200 things that i meant to do during the week. laundry. balance checkbook. throw out broke-ass kitchen dining table. web design project. write. play with kids. cook dinner. bathe william. put kids to bed. sit exhausted in front of t.v. at midnight to catch the tail end of alien. that's a typical weekend for us. we scramble around during the day. then i scramble around some more at night. i'm living off 6 hours of sleep average. my face shows it.
so, needless to say, don't ask me if i went to earth day, park fest, eeyore's birthday, red bull flugetag, or any of the other "keep austin weird" festivals this weekend. sorry earth. sorry austin. i may just be a bit too tired.
Saturday, April 26, 2003
my class is over next week. i'm considering possibly pursuing an mfa in creative writing. could that site be any uglier? i also like the fact that somebody thinks $10,003.50 per year for a teaching assistanceship is good pay. you can make more working at mcdonald's. i guess writers really aren't any good at math. anyways, swt is one of the top 20 creative writing programs in the nation. more info. deadline for spring admissions is nov. 1st.
gre scores above 900
3 letters of recommendation
2.5 gpa in undergrad
2-3 short stories
grimes. gilb. tim o'brian. blackwood. that's some decent.
rob said he'd get me a t-shirt that said "i love write." this is how retarded we are. i said, as a joke, that some people shouldn't take these creative writing classes. they should just get a t-shirt that says "i love to write" b/c that's all they really want. for everyone to know how much of a writer they are. but rob misheard me and thought i said "i love write." which is really better if you think about it. if only for the first time someone walks up to you and says "shouldn't that say, i love to write?"
Friday, April 25, 2003
ideas for titles
i'll die pretty
for those watching the nba playoffs, all i gotta say is kevin garnett. 35 points. 20 rebounds? holy shiot, that guy was a machine. my friend says he could be the next jordan. everyone's the next jordan, but he is intense to watch. i love the phil jackson mind games too. afterwards, he said that was the best they'd ever play. they couldn't do better than that. ouch. and for all you east-coast brothers, i hate to tell you, but the real championship games are all on the west coast. it's not going to be a contest. the kings? the mavs? c'mon. they could sleepwalk over jason kidd. i like the spunk of the individual players in the east, but the teams don't even come close. watch the next kings game. they friggin' start their bench. they'll be the lakers biggest threat if they make it through the timberwolves. which they will. curse those damn lakers.
still, all in all, a great nba playoff season. all the teams got spunk and play like it's their last chance.
Tuesday, April 22, 2003
an oldie, but goodie. i was just thinking that i'd been writing down this crazy, lop-sided shit in all the half-ass ways for nearly ten years. and finally, i guess, life's found me. there's an old evangelical saw about some athiest telling a preacher that he didn't think he'd ever find God. the preacher looked at him and said, "no, i don't guess you ever will." the athiest started to walk off and the preacher said "but i think God might find you." isn't that it really? being open to those moments that slap you across the face, slack-jawed and mouth breathing?
"The gifted young writer has to learn through adversity to separate rejection of one's work from self-rejection, and with respect to the latter, self-criticism (otherwise known as revision and what one might call re-envision) from self-distrust. For the inexperienced writer, a year or two of rejection or a major rejection - say, of a novel - can lead all too easily to self-distrust, and from there to a disabling distrust of the writing process itself. Anxious, depressed, defensive, the writer who is suffering this distrust, whether temporarily or chronically or terminally, gives up her most fundamental and enabling right: the right to write uncertainly, roughly or even badly."
about the best, brightest advice i've heard in a long time. not that i'm gifted. or a girl. taken from "A Few Good Voices in My Head."
"In its benign form, rewriting is a second, third, and nth chance to make something come right, to 'fall graciously into place,' in Lewis Hyde's phrase. But it is also the testing ground of the writer's conscience, on the one hand, and of his faith, on the other. One has to learn to respect the misgiving that says, This still doesn't ring true, still hasn't touched bottom, still hasn't delivered me."
Thursday, April 17, 2003
revision #2 of st. james church road story for class. the reaction from the professor and the rest of the class surprised me a bit. he really believes that this is my best work to date. i'm not sure i can tell. he says it's a leap in that it's a double narrative. i didn't really know what that meant, but i nodded like i did. nodding and drinking wine are a writer's best defense against all sorts of criticism and high praise. and hell, i'll take the compliments where i can get 'em.
Wednesday, April 16, 2003
oh won't you come on
come on down sweet virginia
come on, come on child
i'm begging you
come on, come on down
you got it in you
you got to scrape that shit
right off your shoes
Sunday, April 13, 2003
we went to see miyazaki's oscar nominated spirited away. my gosh, what a fantastic film. it was tremendously scary, but in that old wizard of oz way. try to remember the first time you saw the witch in the wizard of oz. our whole family loved my neighbor totoro, an earlier miyazaki classic. this one significantly ups the "what the...?" factor. i highly recommend it. it is scary, but not in the usual graphic or terrifying ways of hollywood. and there is a happy ending.
Thursday, April 10, 2003
after my class tonight, the prof. invited us to a michener center reading. this year's graduates were reading from their selected works. i think there were eight graduating students. they had a big reception in a really ritzy building. we stood around for a bit and drank wine and schmoozed. scott (my prof) knows quite a few people since he runs the undergraduate writing center. at any rate, i saw, but did not get to meet the head of the michener center, jim magnuson (no relation that i'm aware of). he seemed like a really warm and generous person. of course, he was probably liquored to the gills. everyone seemed really bright and eager and witty. i had to use the bathroom, but held it. at any rate, we all went into this auditorium and sat and listened to the graduates read their poems, novels, short stories and plays. now you might think that the cumulative total of three years of interdisciplinary training and writing and just scraping up against literary gods like denis johnson might actually produce a body of work that was at the very least, interesting. stimulating? able to overcome a long day of boring computer training and two glasses of wine? well, you'd be wrong.
that's the only word i could think of after we left. there was one guy who knocked me on my ass. he was a playwright and he read from a series that he was writing called lessons for children. this was lesson #4. avoiding laziness. absolutely brilliant. but he was the only one. the rest was that sprawling new yorker, east coast horse shit. one out of eight. i guess that's not too bad. it could be worse. i'm sure this sounds like sour grapes. but it isn't. really. i was half-expecting some decent stuff. what i got made me feel like i was in a starbucks in west austin on open mic night. of course, the wine was pretty good and when it was over, i pissed a river into the fancy urinal.
Tuesday, April 08, 2003
things i noticed today:
- i gotta write i gotta write. goddamn. this is what i say to myself after i've had three coffees. four coffees and it's something different.
- i've only had three decent teachers my entire life. yes, my current writing teacher is one of them. i'm in a training course during the day and the poor guy can't teach to save his life. he has examples and anecdotes and charts and all sorts of power points, but mostly we just put our heads down and work through the labs. that's fine. i'm happy to do labs. but three decent teachers. damn.
- thomas' private school came up with a new, stricter dress code for next year. collared shirts tucked in with belts. the brochure that they sent home said that they want the kids to "dress for success" and respect God in their clothing. i shit you not. and it was then that i realized. i don't have any idea what God thinks about my goodwill clothing. i hadn't even thought to ask Him. God, is it OK if i wear dead people's clothing? it's cheap, but the polyester will outlast Gapwear something like 2:1. that's frugality right there.
- thomas is six years old. i have a six year old kid.
- i went to pick up william and his teacher, miss patricia, said, "william, tell dad about the bug." of course, i immediately thought that he was bit or some crazy-ass thing happened with a bug. but, all it ended up being was that some sort of bug jumped on him while he was on the swing. "we had to chase him around and finally we got him to settle down," said miss patricia. "what kind of bug was it?" i asked. "i dunno," miss patricia shrugged. how anti-climactic is that?
- lonanne went to go help some women unpack her house. it's more glamorous than it sounds. this was a really rich woman. really really rich. she unpacks and arranges and organizes. the woman had a daughter who used to be a teacher, but now, she owns all the conan the barbarian rights and she has a full-time gig managing conan the barbarian shit. seriously. she bought the rights or inherited them or something. can you imagine? i'd be hiring people left and right. and not just to help my rich mom unpack her house.
- if i take the enfield road exit off mopac and then cut over to lamar and then go up till i get to w.38th street and then take that to medical parkway and go until that turns into burnet and then take a right at north loop and go up woodrow to brentwood, it doesn't save one lousy minute. i might as well sit in traffic on mopac.
Sunday, April 06, 2003
stories that warm the heart:
An elderly woman was behind me getting off the escalator and a young (20ish) female protestor offered her a pamphlet, she politely declined. The young protestor put her hand on the old woman's shoulder as a guesture of friendship and in a very soft voice said, "Ma'am, don't you care about the children of Iraq?"
The old woman looked up at her and said: "Honey, my first husband died in France during World War II so you could have the right to stand here and bad mouth your country. And if you touch me again, I'll stick this umbrella up your ass and open it."
thomas turned six last thursday. we went to gattiland, that pizza hell. i got $20 in tokens and we went crazy in the arcade. i showed them how to kill raptors and play air hockey. they even had bumper cars. then, yesterday, we had a big party here at the house, with all his friends and family. we got a pinata shaped like a 6. we blindfolded the kids and they swung at it with thomas' new baseball bat. several of the young tykes nearly got their heads taken off. one of the parents said she was leaving her daughter to go run errands. she came back an hour later. what are we running here lady? a daycare? i guess she figured her present was worth about an hour of babysitting. it was a spiderman doll. i have to admit, that's probably two hours of babysitting money. thomas got some roller blades from grandma. we strapped them on today and went rolling and tilting and falling around the block. he's actually pretty good for just starting out and for having his dad's klutz genes. he also got a holga camera from my mom. the film is expensive as all hell, but they supposedly take some funky pictures. and, hey, they look like something out of get smart.
are you a rocket engineer? the x-prize continues to be up-for-grabs.
satellite photos of iraq. some pretty slick before/after shots of precision bomb targets. slick prolly isn't the right word. scary? awesome?
interesting nyt on covert units in iraq. it's hard to get a feel for the scale of this war until you read things like this:
Special Forces units cleared the way for the largest military parachute landing since World War II when the 173rd Airborne Brigade dropped in to protect northern oil fields and hold the line against numerically superior Iraqi forces.
also the fact that there are nearly 7,000 iraqi soldiers in custody and over 2,000 dead. jeez.
Wednesday, April 02, 2003
understanding the psychology of programmers. and here i thought i was just surrounded by a bunch of nerds. one look at that guy's picture and you'll see how creative types differentiate themselves.
sensored finally posted my sxsw reviews. rok 'n' roll won't cure my soul, but it sure helps the nights go by.